If you’d like to know what scientists and public officials are aiming for in efforts to restore the water quality, habitat, and fisheries of the Chesapeake Bay, take a look at the latest Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement, signed in June 2014 by the Chesapeake Executive Council. The Council includes the governors of Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia; the administrator of the U.S. EPA; the mayor of the District of Columbia; and the chair of the Chesapeake Bay Commission, a group of legislators from Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. (For more information about the Council, please see http://www.chesapeakebay.net/groups/group/chesapeake_executive_council.)
The June document is the latest version of Bay Agreement documents that were first signed in 1983 and revised in 1987 and in 2000. The latest agreement identifies 10 major goals and 29 more specific, measurable outcomes to be achieved by 2025. According to the Executive Council’s Web site, the 10 goals in the new agreement are as follows:
- Sustainable Fisheries: Protect, restore and enhance finfish, shellfish and other living resources, their habitats and ecological relationships to sustain all fisheries and provide for a balanced ecosystem in the watershed and Bay.
- Vital Habitats: Restore, enhance and protect a network of land and water habitats to support fish and wildlife, and to afford other public benefits, including water quality, recreational uses and scenic value across the watershed.
- Water Quality: Reduce pollutants to achieve the water quality necessary to support the aquatic living resources of the Bay and its tributaries and protect human health.
- Toxic Contaminants: Ensure that the Bay and its rivers are free of effects of toxic contaminants on living resources and human health.
- Healthy Watersheds: Sustain state-identified healthy waters and watersheds recognized for their high quality and/or high ecological value.
- Stewardship: Increase the number and the diversity of local citizen stewards and local governments that actively support and carry out the conservation and restoration activities that achieve healthy local streams, rivers and a vibrant Chesapeake Bay.
- Land Conservation: Conserve landscapes treasured by citizens in order to maintain water quality and habitat; sustain working forests, farms and maritime communities; and conserve lands of cultural, indigenous and community value.
- Public Access: Expand public access to the Bay and its tributaries through existing and new local, state and federal parks, refuges, reserves, trails and partner sites.
- Environmental Literacy: Enable every student in the region to graduate with the knowledge and skills to act responsibly to protect and restore their local watershed.
- Climate Resiliency: Increase the resiliency of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, including its living resources, habitats, public infrastructure and communities, to withstand adverse impacts from changing environmental and climate conditions.
For the text of the 2014 Bay Agreement and for more information, please visit the EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program Web site at http://www.chesapeakebay.net/chesapeakebaywatershedagreement/page. For a good overview of the latest agreement and its background, see “New Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement is more pragmatic than its predecessors,” in the July-August issue of Bay Journal, available online at http://www.bayjournal.com/article/new_chesapeake_bay_watershed_agreement_is_more_pragmatic_than_its_predecess