The November elections are over and we now know who the state political leaders will be in 2010 when most of the Chesapeake 2000 goals come due.

Gov. Tim Kaine of Virginia, Gov. Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania, Governor-Elect Martin O’Malley of Maryland and Mayor-Elect Adrian Fenty of Washington, D.C., both individually and collectively, have the fate of the Chesapeake Bay watershed in their hands.

Will these political leaders recommit to the goals of Chesapeake 2000 and fully fund the restoration efforts in the next budget cycle? Or will they let the future of the Bay slip through their fingers?

These were the questions being asked by the grassroots representatives at the Chesapeake Watershed Forum in Shepherdstown, WV, Nov. 17-19. The meeting, attended by 300 people, was the first assembly of watershed groups in the Bay watershed in more than 10 years.

One of the outcomes of the conference was the signing of the Declaration for Our Watersheds by more than 100 watershed groups. The document challenges the political leadership in the region to:

Rededicate and recommit to achieving all of the Chesapeake 2000 goals by 2010;

Propose, pass and sign increased federal and state budgets this year and in all future years to meet the goals of Chesapeake 2000, including funds for restoration work, staffing, research, monitoring, technical assistance and implementation, as well as the enforcement of all legislative and regulatory protections;

Encourage innovative private sector funding approaches like nutrient trading, renewable energy production and manure utilization where they result in true nutrient and sediment reductions, and investigate the appropriateness and feasibility of a regional financing authority, use fees or other financial mechanism to accelerate restoration throughout the multi-state region;

Assure meaningful public participation in river and watershed decision-making by expanding opportunities for public involvement and responding to public comment;

Preserve our regional cultural heritage by addressing the complex issues of growth and development in our watershed by providing the tools, leadership and resources that enable communities to participate in better land use decisions;

Enforce all environmental laws and regulation that will help restore and protect our rivers and creeks for the future and to enact new laws where the current ones are inadequate; and

Lead by example and adopt the newest, most effective best management practices and pollution prevention techniques in our government facilities and lands.

It is hoped that 2007 will be a banner year for the Bay and the region’s political leadership will finally respond to the call of their constituencies to take bold and decisive action to restore the Chesapeake watershed.

This is an issue of economic security and quality of life for the citizens of our watershed, as well as an environmental one.

I am fearful that the year 2010 is looming closer. But I am optimistic that with strong political leadership, we can work together next year to create a Chesapeake region where both blue crabs and children can thrive.

Citizens Advisory Committee seeks youth representatives

The Citizens Advisory Committee to the Chesapeake Executive Council is seeking motivated young residents from Virginia, Maryland, the District of Columbia and Pennsylvania with a strong interest in providing perspectives on restoring and preserving the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries to fill vacancies in their Young Delegates program.

The mission of the CAC—a 25-member committee composed of residents of Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia—is to advise the governors of these states, the D.C. mayor, the EPA administrator, and the Chesapeake Bay Commission on the activities, progress and priorities of the Chesapeake Bay Program.

This is a volunteer position. Delegates, who must be at least 18 years old, shall serve without compensation. For information, visit www.acb-online.org/jobs.cfm  

Applicants should submit a cover letter stating why they are interested in this position and a resume (two pages maximum) with three references that must be received no later than Jan. 12, 2006. Mail applications to: Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, 6600 York Road, Suite 100, Baltimore, MD, 21212, or fax 410-377-7144, or e-mail (Adobe Acrobat or MS Word) to jblackburn@acb-online.org, c/o Jessica Blackburn.