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More Funds Available for the Chesapeake Bay in Farm Bill

Credit Ben Fertig, Integration and Application Network, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.

Environmental conservation has been a focus of the government and the media alike and, recently, a bill was ratified that would increase the amount of funding that is available for the Chesapeake Bay. According to the Maryland Senate, this farm bill will help to provide some much-needed funding for the Chesapeake Bay which has seen threats looming from multiple directions. According to Senator Chris Van Hollen, this bill is, in part, called the Chesapeake Bay Farm Bill Enhancements Act.

In this bill, there is more than $300 million that will be allocated to the Regional Conservation Partnership Program on an annual basis. This group provides funding for multiple, various conservation entities, including farmers, who will work together to reduce the amount of pollution and provide better quality water to the residents of the Chesapeake area. With severe weather arriving at an increasing frequency, it is important to try to preserve the Chesapeake Bay for generations to come. The Conservation Partnership was formed back in 2014. It has the goal of consolidating all of the conservation resources into one location to try and effect positive change in a more efficient manner. Previously, the conservation groups were all separate and, sometimes, they had trouble enacting initiatives due to a lack of funding. This consolidation of resources ensures that all parties are working together toward the same goal.

In the future, the percentage of funding for the various critical conservation areas in the state of Maryland (which includes the Chesapeake Bay) is likely to increase, as these natural lands are under as great a threat as ever. The amount of funding for the bay could rise by up to 50 percent. Now, this measure will provide an extra $50 million per year to the program that Maryland and numerous other states participate in. This final agreement demonstrates that the government is prioritizing the conservation of its natural resources.

The hope is that, with improved resources for the Chesapeake, the wildlife in the Chesapeake will be able to recover. Recently, there has been a lot of reporting done on the challenges facing the oysters in the Chesapeake Bay. The increasing amount of acidification in the water creates a deadly environment for the oyster population. As an increasing amount of carbon dioxide enters the air, it dissolves in the water, making it more acidic. This has threatened the oyster population, leading to struggles for people and aquatic life alike. With the increased funding, delicate wildlife, such as oysters, might be able to recover.

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