Howard County Executive Calvin Ball announced on September 2nd that the County’s Office of Community Sustainability (OCS) and Department of Recreation & Parks (HCRP) have received a 2020 Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reduction Grant by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Part of the larger Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund, the nearly $1 million ($999,202) grant award will help the regional “Planting the Future” initiative by funding a full-time Restoration Coordinator for a 30-month period in Howard County.
“Through this grant, the County can truly increase environmental restoration and green job opportunities within central Maryland,” said Ball. “This funding will also allow Howard County, in partnership with the Greater Baltimore Wilderness Coalition, to build on existing workforce training programs to establish a more comprehensive, regional, green workforce training program with our neighboring jurisdictions. We’re grateful to our congressional delegation for supporting this opportunity to build on our initiatives and work towards a cleaner and more sustainable environment.”
“To keep the health of the Chesapeake Bay on a positive trajectory requires all of us working together through cost-effective projects that protect shorelines and wetlands, control pollution and restore or sustain local fish, wildlife, plants and their habitat,” said Senator Ben Cardin, a senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund enables local governments to design and implement projects that will work best for their communities.”
“Protecting the Chesapeake Bay isn’t just a priority, it’s an obligation,” said Representative Dutch Ruppersberger. “As an Appropriator, I was on the ground floor fighting for these critical funds, and I am proud to have helped increase the pot of resources we have available for our mighty Chesapeake Bay stewards. These grants will help them help us ensure the Bay is healthy enough to continue supporting our region’s economy and enriching the quality of life of Marylanders for generations to come.”
Organized by the Greater Baltimore Wilderness Coalition, of which OCS is a member, the “Planting the Future” initiative is designed to triple tree planting numbers over three years in Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Howard County. The initiative also assists the Coalition with increasing its capacity to serve as a primary resource and impact multiplier in the effort to create a robust green infrastructure network across Central Maryland.
“We are thrilled to partner with the Greater Baltimore Wilderness Coalition on this regional investment in our ecosystems. In order to achieve this large scale-up in environmental initiatives, one of our first steps will be to hold a regional Green Summit to assess and share best practices” said OCS Director Joshua Feldmark. “Early priorities for this program will be the development of a compelling regional marketing & incentive plan and refining Greater Baltimore Wilderness Coalition’s resiliency map to identify highest priority restoration sites.”
The grant will also allow HCRP to ramp up its existing programs, such as its Stream ReLeaf and Turf to Trees programs, increasing the number of trees planted per year through these programs from 2,500 to at least 7,500.
“Howard County Recreation & Parks enjoys working with the Office of Community Sustainability on many of these collaborative green efforts, including our upcoming giveaway of 2,020 trees on September 24 and 26,” stated HCRP Director Raul Delerme. “Our naturalists are ready and eager to help as the County begins to carry out these projects on an even greater scale.”
The Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund is a pooled grant fund managed by NFWF and made possible through significant annual funding from EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program Office, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, corporate and foundation partners. Since 2000, the Fund has awarded more than $150 million in funding to more than 1,000 local restoration projects and partnerships.
“The Greater Baltimore Wilderness Coalition is truly delighted to have Howard County as a lead partner in this united effort to dramatically increase the rate of tree planting across Central Maryland,” said Ashley Traut, Senior Advisor for the Greater Baltimore Wilderness Coalition. “Trees have the power to restore our waterways, clean the air, fight climate change, and significantly improve our quality of life. We look forward to helping Howard County and all of the dedicated partners in this exciting campaign to plant and grow a vibrant, healthy and resilient future.”
“The EPA is pleased to invest in people, partnerships and projects that improve the quality of local waters and habitat, helping to restore the Chesapeake Bay,” commented EPA Regional Administrator Cosmo Servidio. “It is a priority for the EPA to support local actions that move us closer to our restoration goals.”
“The grants announced will support on-the-ground conservation efforts that benefit people and wildlife throughout the Chesapeake Bay’s 64,000-square-mile watershed,” said Jeff Trandahl,
NFWF Executive Director and CEO. “These grants will help local communities and conservation partners restore and protect rivers and streams, improving water quality and the ecological health of the Bay.”
Chartered by Congress in 1984, the NFWF protects and restores the nation’s fish, wildlife, plants and habitats. Working with federal, corporate and individual partners, NFWF has funded more than 4,500 organizations and committed more than $5.3 billion to conservation projects. To learn more about NFWF, visit www.nfwf.org.