U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va ) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) introduced legislation to provide more resources to Chesapeake Bay conservation efforts. The Chesapeake Watershed Investments for Landscape Defense (Chesapeake WILD) Act will create a new grant program within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to support habitat restoration in the Bay region. It is modeled after the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act, which is funded at $5 million annually, and would provide millions in new resources to the Chesapeake Bay. 

“This grant program, built on a successful model of collaboration between local landowners and conservation stakeholders, will not only improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, but also improve the health of populations of species important to sportsmen and fishermen. I’m proud to join with my colleagues to introduce a bill that makes clear conservation and recreation can go hand-in-hand in the Chesapeake watershed,” Senator Capito said. 

“Protecting the Bay wildlife is crucial to Maryland’s environment and economy. The Chesapeake WILD Act will provide more resources for our local partners to undertake critical conservation efforts and will create new a link between our partners on the ground and the Fish and Wildlife Service. I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan bill, and I look forward to working together to secure its passage and provide the Bay with this boost in support,” Senator Van Hollen said. 

“The Chesapeake Bay is a critical area of importance for waterfowl and for the recreational, health and economic benefits it yields to our citizens,” said David Brakhage, Director of Conservation for the Great Lakes/Atlantic Region for Ducks Unlimited.  “DU appreciates the leadership of Senators Van Hollen and Capito for introducing the Chesapeake WILD Act, which will make a big difference in habitat conservation in the bay.” 

“Healthy habitats, like forests and wetlands, are essential to restoring clean water across the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Not only does habitat restoration and protection provide food and shelter to fish and wildlife, but it also reduces flooding and keeps pollution from entering our local waterways. The Chesapeake WILD Act will go a long way toward restoring and protecting fish and wildlife habitats in our region and ultimately help our movement to clean the rivers and streams throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed,” said Kristin Reilly, Director, Choose Clean Water Coalition. 

“The Chesapeake Headwaters are home to many thousands of miles of wild trout streams, and protecting and restoring them is a long-standing priority for TU,” said Steve Moyer, Vice President for Government Affairs at Trout Unlimited. “The Chesapeake WILD Act will help us and our partners complete on-the-ground projects that provide multiple benefits: improved fish and wildlife habitat, cleaner drinking water for citizens, flood resiliency for local communities, and economic benefits for the entire Bay region. We thank Senators Van Hollen and Capito for their leadership.” 

In addition to Van Hollen and Capito, the legislation is sponsored by Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). 

The text of the legislation is available here. A fact sheet on the bill is available here.