October 30, 2020

Van Hollen, Capito Chesapeake WILD Act Signed Into Law

Legislation Creates New Grant Program for Bay Restoration

Today, U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.) applauded the enactment of the America’s Conservation Enhancement (ACE) Act, a bipartisan package that includes the Chesapeake WILD Act, legislation introduced by the Senators to boost Chesapeake Bay conservation efforts by creating a new grant program within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to support habitat restoration in the Bay region. This program is authorized at $15 million. The ACE Act also increases the EPA Chesapeake Bay Program authorization from $40 million to $92 million. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Van Hollen has also pushed for the highest level of funding for the EPA Chesapeake Bay Program at $85 million in the FY 2020 Appropriations Bill. 

“Protecting the health of the Chesapeake Bay is critical to boosting our local economy and Maryland's environmental well-being. This new grant program will strengthen our restoration and habitat conservation efforts by creating valuable partnerships between the Fish and Wildlife Service and key organizations committed to preserving the Bay. I appreciate Senator Capito’s partnership on this crucial effort. Now that the President has signed our Chesapeake WILD Act into law, we are more equipped to protect the ecosystem of the Bay and the economic activities that rely on its health,” said Senator Van Hollen. 

“This is great news for West Virginia and our Chesapeake Bay watershed region. This law will not only better support conservation and habitat restoration efforts in the area, but also it will bolster our state’s growing outdoor recreation industry. I thank my colleague Senator Van Hollen for his partnership on this bipartisan piece of legislation, and I thank President Trump for signing it into law today,” Senator Capito said.  

The Chesapeake WILD Act was passed by the House on October 1, 2020 and the Senate on September 16, 2020. 

Background on the Chesapeake WILD Act: 

The Chesapeake WILD Act will give 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 directs 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 would benefit from this program, including areas for wetland restoration. However, there is a tremendous need in upland areas; and some commitments under the Chesapeake Bay Agreement are behind schedule. This legislation would 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