More than 300 Marylanders have been selected to serve on 10 recently established "tributary teams" which are intended to take nutrient reduction strategies for each of the state's major rivers from paper to reality.
Drawn from a list of more than 1,200 volunteers, team members include representatives of state and local governments, federal agencies, academia, business, environmental groups, farmers and interested citizens.
"These people are really the local stakeholders who will work within the watersheds to help implement the tributary strategies and to ensure that these strategies are responsive to local needs," said Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening. "They will help educate their fellow citizens about what they must do to help preserve this great resource."
Glendening said the teams were important because "success in cleaning up the Bay can only come with the cooperative effort between government, business and the people of the region."
Maryland's tributary strategies -- plans to guide nutrient reduction efforts in 10 watersheds -- called for the establishment of teams in each tributary to help track progress, provide input to policy-makers and develop public education efforts.
The teams will be "scorekeepers, cheerleaders and innovators," said Lauren Wenzel, a planner with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources" Coastal Zone Management Program, who is helping to coordinate the groups, along with staff from the state departments of Agriculture and Environment, the Maryland Office of Planning and the University of Maryland.
The teams have no regulatory authority, and they are not supposed to get involved in site-specific controversies within the watershed.
Instead, members are to focus on bigger, program-level issues.
They have no budgets, but teams are encouraged to recommend actions to agencies that do. "What we're imagining is that they will work through a lot of the state and local agencies -- and federal agencies where it is appropriate -- and put ideas forward for the agencies to pick up," Wenzel said.
In fact, because actions to achieve the 40 percent nutrient reduction goal cost hundreds of millions of dollars more than will be available in the next several years, officials hope the tributary teams will help identify new, and more cost-effective, ways to achieve nutrient reductions.
The teams will provide a mechanism to coordinate efforts between local governments within a watershed, as well as between state and local government agencies. Each team will develop educational programs to improve public understanding of the nutrient problem and spur participation in cleanup activities.
Once a year, the state will conduct a joint meeting of the teams so they can report on their efforts and exchange ideas.
Glendening called the tributary teams "unique in this nation" and predicted that the "bottom-up type approach" would become a "model for many states, not just in this region but throughout the country."
Virginia's draft tributary strategy for the Potomac River also suggested the use of local tributary teams to help guide regional nutrient reduction efforts.
All the Maryland team meetings are in the evening and open to the public