World’s largest engineering provider, conservation grant-maker team up to restore nation’s largest estuary

Published July 25, 2016

BALTIMORE - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District, has signed a Watershed Assessment Cost-Sharing Agreement with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) to begin work on the $2.8 million Chesapeake Bay Comprehensive Water Resources and Restoration Plan, July 22, 2016.

“This watershed study will result in a plan that provides a single, comprehensive, and integrated restoration guide to achieve meaningful environmental benefits to the Chesapeake Bay,” said Dave Robbins, project manager, Baltimore District.

The Corps will contribute 75 percent of the cost share for the comprehensive plan, while NFWF will leverage in-kind services (non-monetary contributions) from partners in the Bay watershed to account for the remaining 25 percent of the cost.

“The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation has been an advocate and catalyst for restoration actions in the Bay,” said Dan Bierly, chief, Civil Project Development Branch, Baltimore District. "This effort allows for a federal agency like the Corps to partner with a non-governmental organization, as well as other Chesapeake Bay partners, to leverage resources and identify opportunities for continued Bay restoration.”

Due to a variety of factors, significant environmental problems have developed across the 64,000-square-mile watershed to include impaired stream health, fish-passage blockages, loss of critical habitat for threatened and endangered species, and shoreline erosion.

Through the Chesapeake Bay Program, a variety of local, state and federal agencies, as well as public and private organizations across the watershed have committed resources through programs and projects to help restore the Bay.

“The purpose of this plan is to identify viable restoration actions across the watershed using resources from multiple partners,” said Col. Ed Chamberlayne, commander, Baltimore District. “We want to reduce and streamline similar efforts already taking place across the region and implement projects that are needed in problem areas where none currently exist.”

The comprehensive plan will complement existing restoration planning efforts in the region, including state-based watershed improvement plans and the 2014 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement. The plan will outline ecological needs, problems, and restoration opportunities in the watershed that can be addressed through the programs and expertise of the Corps.

NFWF will work with other organizations to obtain data and other relevant information to be included in the technical analyses needed for the plan. High-resolution land-cover data generated by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and the nonprofit Chesapeake Conservancy will serve as a foundation for the plan, supporting geospatial analyses that will help to identify problem areas and evaluate restoration opportunities across the region.

“The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation is pleased to expand our growing partnerships with the Corps into the Chesapeake Bay region,” said Dr. Holly Bamford, chief conservation officer, NFWF. “This collaborative planning process will yield important additional insights into where restoration funding from NFWF and its federal, state, and local partners can have the greatest impact on water quality, habitats, and resiliency in the region.”

The end product of the comprehensive plan will be a report submitted to Congress that documents analyses completed and also makes recommendations for actions, including further investigations, new projects, and technical assistance efforts that the Corps or other federal, state, and local jurisdictions can undertake. At least one project will be established for each of the states, commonwealths and the District of Columbia.

For more information on the Chesapeake Bay Comprehensive Water Resources and Restoration Plan, visit:
Sarah Gross
Rob Blumenthal

Release no. 16-022