U.S. Rep Wayne Gilchrest will lead a new Chesapeake Bay Watershed Congressional Task Force that will help promote federal policies benefiting the environmental and economic well-being of the Bay watershed and its residents.

“Our goal is to bring together all of the Congressional members who are in the Bay watershed and to encourage working together within the Congress for the good of the watershed,” said Gilchrest, R-MD.

“We hope to use this task force to promote stewardship of natural resources, to improve the quality of our air and water, and to enhance the lives of the millions of people who work, live and recreate in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.”

The task force is being formed under the auspices of the Northeast-Midwest Institute, a nonprofit bipartisan policy center. It will meet monthly to discuss shared natural resource issues throughout the watershed’s 37 Congressional districts. It will host briefings for key Congressional staff, coordinate appropriations requests for the region and promote legislation to benefit the watershed.

“This task force has the potential to make a real impact on Bay issues,” said William Baker, president of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, which hosted an inaugural luncheon for the task force. “The issues that affect the Bay don’t recognize party lines or congressional district boundaries. A bipartisan, watershed approach gives us the best chance of success.”

The Bay watershed encompasses 64,000 square miles in six states: Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware and New York, and the District of Columbia.