MARTINSBURG — In hopes of helping West Virginia to become a more active partner in protecting the Chesapeake Bay watershed in the Eastern Panhandle, a West Virginia Senator said she is thrilled at the progression of a conservation act’s advancement to the Oval Office.

According to a press release shared by U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito’s, R-W.Va., office, the U.S. House of Representatives’ passage of the America’s Conservation Enhancement Act, or ACE Act, legislation she cosponsored in the Senate is now headed to President Donald Trump’s office for his signature.

“The Chesapeake Bay remains an important natural resource and its headwaters in West Virginia play a meaningful role in our state’s economy,” Capito said. “By reauthorizing existing funding and establishing the first federal species and habitat conservation grants tailored specifically to this region, we’re better able to support vital ecosystems and West Virginia’s large outdoor industry. I’m thrilled that both the Chesapeake Bay Program Reauthorization Act and the Chesapeake WILD Act were included in the ACE Act, and I look forward to President Trump signing this legislation into law.”

The bill includes language from the Chesapeake Bay Program Reauthorization Act and the Chesapeake WILD Act, two bipartisan bills Senator Capito sponsored to support habitat restoration and conservation efforts in the Chesapeake Bay region, according to the release.

The Chesapeake Bay Program Reauthorization Act, as explained by the release, is one portion of the overall ACE Act, which would provide $90 million in the fiscal year 2020 with a $500,000 increase each year for the five years authorized and would go directly toward states within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed – West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York and Washington D.C.

The second legislation under the ACE Act umbrella is the Chesapeake WILD Act, which would give the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service a direct role in the restoration and protection of living resources and their habitat in the 64,000 square mile Chesapeake Bay region, the release explained.

According to the release, the non-regulatory bill directs the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to establish a grants program to enhance fish and wildlife and their habitats and would enable the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to more fully engage in habitat restoration activities in the Chesapeake Bay region.

“The Chesapeake bay watershed spans over six states and the district of Columbia and the impacts of pollution and runoff that feed into the bay and that can impact water habitat and water systems,” Capito said. “In the panhandle we’ve had instances where our water systems have had to meet certain levels of quality that, because the systems have been old, they’ve had to readjust and redo their systems. This Act brings together the coordination aspect of all of this since we are at the headwaters and Maryland and Virginia are at the other end. I think it’s important that we become a great partner and an active partner in preserving the watershed.”