If you aren't already a member, now is a great time to join the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay. We are embarking on an aggressive set of new programs to move along the Bay restoration that you are going to want to be a part of. Before departing as executive director in April, David Bancroft led the staff and board of the Alliance to adopt a detailed strategic plan.

As you probably know, we are engaged in a search for a new executive director, who will be the point person to carry out the plan. The Search Committee includes Mary Barber (Chair), Charlie Conklin, Cassandra Carmichael and myself from the board as well as former Alliance director Fran Flanigan. Check out www.alliancechesbay.org for details if you are interested in the position or know someone who should be.

The plan will focus Alliance efforts on watershed groups and local governments because that is where education and engagement are most important. Our work with watershed groups is already well-established, but will now be better directed at building local management and project capacity under a program called H2O - Help to Organize. We know that by doing this we are taking the spotlight off ourselves and putting it on the achievements of local efforts, but we believe that is the best approach. And that's why your membership to support the Alliance is especially important.

The focus on local government is a concerted effort to overcome decades of what has frankly been the ineffective engagement of these key players. Despite yeoman efforts by the Bay Program's Local Government Advisory Committee and others, the outreach has been neither attractive nor consistent. We need to work with all of the Bay partners to get to the heart of this and deal with the problems whether they are the turnover of elected officials, inability to make a clear case for the Chesapeake to local residents, clumsy use of state and federal regulatory authorities, hostility of states toward others "doing their work," or whatever. An open and honest dialogue among all of us just might result in some breakthroughs. We have some ideas to offer and will be seeking funding to carry them out.

The Alliance commitment to watershed groups and local governments does not mean we will abandon our signature partnership programs. Many of them, like Builders for the Bay and Forestry for the Bay, fit well into the new structure. Others, such as our support of the six state agriculture secretaries' Chesapeake Agriculture Caucus will continue in their own right. And watch for the rollout in the next few months of a revamped Businesses for the Bay program, financed entirely free of government funds.

Finally, we are looking to 2010 and beyond and what issues are lining up for the next round of discussions about a Bay Agreement. We have had six workgroups engaging both board members and outside experts in a range of topics. One that has caught the attention of a number of potential partners is a Coalition on Accountability to hold the political leadership of the Bay region to the promises made as well as the tough tax and regulatory decisions we all know lie at the heart of success in the Bay.

If these are the kinds of issues that excite you and you want to be a part of their formulation and marketing, please fill out the form on this page and become an active member of the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay. We need all the brain power and guts we can get!

2008 Bay & River Sojourns

Join the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay on one of its 2008 River Sojourns-multi-day educational expeditions down the beautiful rivers of the Bay watershed.

  • The Patuxent River Sojourn runs June 19-24 from King's Landing Park to Drum Point in Calvert County, MD. Contact: 410-377-6270 x31.
  • The James River Sojourn runs June 25-29, beginning at James River State Park. Contact: 804-775-0951 or cfrench@acb-online.org.
  • The Susquehanna River Sojourn: The paddle down the Chemung River, a Susquehanna tributary, runs June 15-21 from Corning, NY, to Mehoopany, PA. Contact: 717-737-8622.