Thursday, September 18, 2014

Rivers Of The Chesapeake A Priority For USDA Collaborative Landscapes Program

DEP Secretary E. Christopher Abruzzo, along with officials from Maryland, Virginia and the Chesapeake Bay Commission, sent a letter this week to U.S. Department of Agriculture Under Secretary Robert Bonnie, thanking him for his role in supporting the “Rivers of the Chesapeake” as a top priority project for the Land Water Conservation Fund's FY 2016 Collaborative Landscapes program.
The fund, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this month, uses a fee on offshore oil and gas drilling to fund wildlife, recreation and similar programs on public land.
The Rivers of the Chesapeake proposal identifies more than 21,000 acres of federal land conservation opportunities within six focus areas: the Lower Susquehanna, James-York-Mouth of the Bay, Rappahannock, Middle Potomac, Nanticoke, and Headwaters (of the James and Potomac Rivers, including the Shenandoah.  
If chosen, the proposal could marshal roughly $50 million in federal funds for land conservation in the Chesapeake watershed for FY 16 and additional dollars in the two outlying years.
"Understanding that many other worthy projects from around the country applied, we are writing to express our gratitude for your confidence in us," the letter states. "Your vote recognizes the value and quality of the Rivers of the Chesapeake Project and your willingness to invest in us."
In July, a delegation representing the Chesapeake Bay Commission including Abruzzo, Pa. Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Ellen Feretti, Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary Joseph Gill, Virginia Department of Natural Resources Secretary Molly Ward, and Commission Executive Director Ann Swanson, met with Bonnie and Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell to urge their support for the proposal.
Pennsylvania has received approximately $315 million over the past four decades, protecting places such as Gettysburg National Military Park and Valley Forge National Historical Park.
(Reprinted from September 18 issue of DEP News.  Click Here to sign up to receive your own copy of DEP News and back issues.)

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