September 03, 2021

Van Hollen, Capito Applaud Newly Released Fish and Wildlife Framework to Implement the Senators’ Chesapeake WILD Act

Today, U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.) applauded the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s newly released framework implementing the Senators’ bipartisan Chesapeake WILD Act by creating a regional network of stakeholders to help preserve the Chesapeake Bay. The Senators’ Chesapeake WILD Act was signed into law last year as part of the larger America’s Conservation Enhancement (ACE) Act, creating a new grant program within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to support habitat restoration in the Bay. The program was authorized in the legislation at $15 million, potentially directing millions of new funding to Bay conservation efforts through this brand new initiative.

“Protecting the health of the Chesapeake Bay is critical to boosting our local economy and preserving Maryland's environmental well-being. That’s why we fought to pass the Chesapeake WILD Act to create this new grant program to strengthen our restoration and habitat conservation efforts and support collaboration between the Fish and Wildlife Service and key on-the-ground partners committed to preserving the Bay. I’m glad to see the Fish and Wildlife Service release this framework outlining the implementation of our legislation. This is another big step forward in our efforts to provide even more resources to protecting one of our greatest treasures,” said Senator Van Hollen, a member of the Appropriations Committee and Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies.

“The framework laid out by the FWS is a critical guide in protecting vital ecosystems in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed by implementing the Chesapeake WILD Act. By tailoring wildlife conservation grants specifically to this region, we’re better able to support the unique needs of Watershed species and in turn advance the West Virginia outdoor industry by preserving sustainable populations of key species of interest to our sportsmen,” Senator Capito, Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said. 

Background on the Chesapeake WILD Act:

The Chesapeake WILD Act gave 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. This non-regulatory bill directed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to establish a grants program to enhance fish and wildlife and their habitats. There are key areas in the tidal Chesapeake Bay system that will benefit from this program, including areas for wetland restoration. Additionally, there is a tremendous need in upland areas and some commitments under the Chesapeake Bay Agreement are behind schedule. This legislation will enable the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to more fully engage in habitat restoration activities in the Chesapeake Bay region. 

The Chesapeake WILD Act is intended to assist local partners with on-the-ground work to enhance progress toward Chesapeake Bay Watershed-wide goals on some of the following activities:  

  • Riparian forest buffer restoration
  • Improving stream health
  • Tidal and Non-tidal wetland restoration
  • Improving fish habitat
  • Expanding populations of black ducks
  • Restoring and protecting eastern brook trout and their habitat
  • Removing barriers to fish migration in freshwater systems