The Chesapeake Bay Program has begun an exercise to re-evaluate its structure and function to see if there are efficiencies to be gained in re-invention.

From August through October 2006, a series of more than 50 stakeholder interviews and approximately 60 surveys were completed to prepare for the planning of the Chesapeake Bay Program reorganization. Some of the results are listed here:

The Executive Council and Principals’ Staff Committee need to become more fully engaged in the restoration effort. People expressed concern that political will is lacking to support the restoration; the political leadership is not well-organized; and a gap appears to exist between the council and the committee.

A consistent and strongly expressed theme is that implementation should be one of the main functions of the Bay Program, but definitions and roles of implementation need to be clarified for all players.

The inherent challenge is that the Bay Program is held accountable for the goals set by all partners but does not have either the authority or financing to drive implementation. While states have the strongest role in directing and funding the restoration, the federal programs also play an important funding role.

The majority of people interviewed believe that financing the restoration effort is a new role which the Bay Program must embrace to be successful. The importance of financing and the lack of political leadership at the Executive Council for supporting the Blue Ribbon Panel’s recommendation for a Financing Authority was cited as a major barrier to implementation and a major weakness of the Bay Program.

Another consistent theme expressed in the interviews and surveys is the undervalued role of local governments in the restoration effort.

Respondents were divided on the role of regulatory programs in the Bay Program. Some find the regulatory structure helpful in getting the program beyond voluntary action.

A number of people questioned when and how a Total Maximum Daily Load would change the Bay Program’s future restoration efforts.

The vast majority of respondents believe that the subcommittees and advisory committees lack direction. Subcommittees seem to create their own priorities without any link to an overall strategic plan. Advisory committees should be influencing priorities and the political leadership.

I applaud the goals of the Chesapeake Bay Program in doing a self-examination to see if there are ways to increase efficiency and improve the effectiveness of the dollars spent.

However, as one of the survey respondents noted, sometimes when an organization finds it is impossible to fulfill the mission that it is intended to resolve, it moves its attention to another problem. I hope this is not the case with the Chesapeake Bay Program.

Everyone knows that the major issue facing the Chesapeake Bay cleanup effort is a lack of resources. While some reorganization may provide better targeting or resources, it will not provide the steep increase in funding that the Bay cleanup effort requires.

The governors of the Chesapeake Bay watershed need to lead the charge. The Bay’s restoration is not just an environmental issue. It is an economic development and quality of life issue as well.

Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay Opportunities

Project Clean Stream

Now is a good time to start thinking of spring cleanups, which will be taking place across Maryland in March and April.

Various watershed organizations will be taking part in the effort. Anyone who knows of a site that could use a good cleanup in central or eastern Maryland, should contact the Alliance at 410-377-6270 or kdowling@acb-online.org.

The Alliance can also provide a list of cleanups in other parts of the state.

Pennsylvania Garden Expo

The fifth annual Pennsylvania Garden Expo will take place March 8–11 at the Exhibition Hall of the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg.

The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay’s Pennsylvania office is working with the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and other state agencies to showcase the largest indoor display of native plants in the Keystone State.

The garden—Celebrating Pennsylvania’s Native Elegance— is a 65-by-70 exhibit capturing the dramatic beauty of Pennsylvania’s indigenous plants in a formal backyard setting.

The earth-friendly landscape will highlight conservation concepts: rain gardens, rain barrels, composters and more. From the shed to the statuary, every item in the garden is made in Pennsylvania—many using sustainable materials and practices

For information on the expo, visit www.pagardenexpo.com/index.html.

Susquehanna Sojourn to meet John Smith shallop

This summer, two groups of modern-day explorers will converge on the Susquehanna River.

A group of historians, naturalists and educators will retrace Capt. John Smith’s 1608 expedition in a 28-foot reproduction of Smith’s shallop.

Living much as Smith and his men did, the shallop and her crew will spend 121 days voyaging into almost every tributary of the Bay as part of the Capt. John Smith 400 Project.

In July, the Alliance will hold its 17th annual Susquehanna Sojourn, timed to coincide with the shallop’s visit to the river.

The sojourn will begin at Pennsylvania’s Safe Harbor Dam, where it ended in June 2006, and then paddle to the Bay. The sojourners will meet the John Smith shallop as they travel through Maryland to Port Deposit, Perryville and Havre de Grace on July 21–22.

Associated festivities in these lower Susquehanna River towns will center on the explorations of Smith, and the sojourners will become immersed in the cultural and historical aspects of his voyage. Programs along the way will include presentations on Native American history, artifacts, preservation efforts and more.

The Conservation Fund, a promoter of the recently approved Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail, recently provided the Alliance with a $5,000 donation for the 2007 sojourn.

For information on the John Smith voyage or the Susquehanna Sojourn, visit: www.johnsmith400.org or www.alliancechesbay.org.