On September 16, 2019, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee approved legislation for the Chesapeake Bay’s oyster restoration funding.
“A thriving oyster population is crucial to the health of the Chesapeake Bay, and in turn, to the health of Maryland’s Bay economy,” said U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), a member of the Senate Appropriations and Budget Committees.
Senator Van Hollen, as a member of the Appropriations Committee, fought to include language in the Bill that will prove crucial to rebuilding a healthy oyster population. His work to support oyster restoration in other Appropriations bills led to the recent announcement of $800,000 in federal funds for Maryland’s efforts.
“These funds will ultimately support critical efforts to sustain our oyster population and preserve the Bay. I will keep working in Congress to fight for the investments necessary to protect the Bay, its wildlife, and the businesses Marylanders have built around it,” Van Hollen added.
Included within the Senate Appropriations-passed legislation, were the Senator’s provisions to:
- Provide $20,000,000 to the Army Corps of Engineers for multistate ecosystem restoration programs that could be applied to oyster restoration projects in the Bay;
- Support the Chesapeake Bay Oyster Restoration Program and encourage the Army Corps to provide sufficient funding in future budget submissions or the Fiscal Year 2020 Work Plan;
- Support the Corps’ Chesapeake Bay Comprehensive Water Resources and Restoration Plan, which is an assessment of the Bay watershed and includes strategies and recommendations for planned and future restoration activities in the Bay; and
- Provide an additional $70 million for the Army Corps Work Plan for project construction, that could be applied to Chesapeake Bay Oyster Restoration. This is an increase of $20 million from FY 2019, and an increase of $70 million from the President’s Budget, which provided zero funds.
“The Chesapeake Bay Foundation thanks Senator Van Hollen for his hard work to secure federal funding for oyster restoration in the Chesapeake Bay. The ongoing work to restore oysters in ten Bay tributaries is already paying off with success stories such as Harris Creek in Maryland and the Lynnhaven River in Virginia. The oyster reefs built there are providing habitat for fish and crabs and beginning to show needed water quality benefits,” said Alison Prost, Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Maryland Executive Director.
“The restoration work plays an important role in efforts to save the Bay. We look forward to working with Senator Van Hollen, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, and the members of the Bay Senate and House delegations who have been so supportive, to ensure that oyster restoration work is a priority going forward in spending bills,” added Prost.
The legislation will now move to the floor of the Senate for a vote before the full chamber.