A multi-state partnership between the Nature Conservancy, the Virginia Outdoors Foundation (VOF), the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Ducks Unlimited, and others has received a $1 million grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) to restore wetlands in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
The Nature Conservancy applied for the grant, and the other partners will provide $2.5 million in matching funds.
According to the Conservancy, the funding will allow the partners to restore 445 acres of wetlands in Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and Pennsylvania. It will also increase capacity for outreach and the enrollment of additional landowners in public and private wetland restoration programs, as well as bring increased resources to areas that have been identified as restoration priorities.
Wetlands help to filter nutrients and sediment from runoff that enters the Bay. They also provide habitat for migratory birds, waterfowl, and fish. The Chesapeake Bay Partnership has set a goal of restoring 85,000 acres across the Bay watershed by 2025, but only 11% of that goal has been reached since the Bay agreement was last signed in 2014.
“Making a real impact on Chesapeake Bay water quality is going to require bringing back some of the 1.5 million acres of wetlands that have been lost in the watershed, and we can’t get there without taking new approaches, said Amy Jacobs, acting conservation director for the Nature Conservancy in Maryland and DC. “The success we’ve seen with the restoration of the Pocomoke floodplains has taught us a lot of lessons that will help us expand this type of work to other areas in the watershed. We need to aim for ambitious public-private coalitions, engage more private landowners and use the best available science to tell us where restoration will provide the greatest benefits.”
In Virginia, the Conservancy will work collaboratively with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, VOF, and other partners with the Rappahannock River Land Protection Partnership, which aims to engage private landowners along the Rappahannock River in conservation programming. Since the partnership began, VOF has protected more than 12,000 acres of open space in the Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge through conservation easements.