Senate Passes Major Conservation Bill

On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate passed the "Natural Resources Protection Act", touted as the biggest conservation bill of the decade, by a vote of 92 to 8. The measure now goes to the House of Representatives, where passage is reportedly also expected. The 662 page bill has significant conservation benefits for the western U.S. including expanding wilderness protection by 1.3 million acres, and withdrawing lands around Yellowstone National Park from mining. A number of new parks are protected as well. It also reauthorizes the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act, ...

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Get Ready: Region’s Sea Level Rise Highest on East Coast

A trio of new reports set out the challenge posed in the Chesapeake Bay region by sea level rise and the policy options for addressing it, focusing on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. The underlying challenge: "Due to the combination of land subsidence and sea level rise ... tide gauges across the Chesapeake and mid-Atlantic indicate relative water level rise ... [as] the highest of the entire Atlantic seaboard and among the highest worldwide." An overview publication -- "Mainstreaming Sea Level Rise Preparedness in Local Planning and Policy on Maryland's Eastern Shore" ...

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2018 Farm Bill Supports More Land Conservation

The 2018 Farm Bill, enacted in December, sets out five year funding for a wide range of federal programs. From a Chesapeake conservation perspective this is good news. Chesapeake Bay Commission Executive Director Ann Swanson and Pennsylvania Director Marel King reported on the new Farm Bill and other federal topics at last week's meeting of the Chesapeake Bay Program Principals Staff Committee. Here are a few highlights of their report on the Farm Bill's benefits for conservation (note all numbers are national totals): Regional Conservation Partnership Program ...

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Training Sessions on Messaging for Conservation

Whether you live on a farm or in the city, are a history lover or a hiker, or simply want to drink pure water straight from the tap, the land you live on and around shapes your life. When we conserve land, we invest in our quality of life. Last week, representatives of land trusts and other conservation organizations in Maryland met for the first in a series of intensive training sessions on communicating the values of land conservation. The half day workshop engaged participants with a narrative for land conservation centered on quality of life, and in applying it ...

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2018 Voters Support Conservation – $3 Billion of It

The November 2018 elections proved once again that voters support conservation funding. The Land Trust Alliance reports that 58 city, county or state ballot measures were considered in 23 states on election day. At least 49 of those passed. The Trust for Public Land's LandVote database tracks these ballot measures. 2018 results show voters approved over $3.2 billion in new conservation funding. This means funds that must be dedicated to land acquisition and protection. 2018 results show only one ballot measure in the Chesapeake Bay watershed states. Baltimore ...

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Holistic Approach Needed for Planning Energy Projects

A new report prepared by the Environmental Law Institute for the Chesapeake Conservation Partnership recommends specific actions that Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia may consider to address the impacts of proposed energy projects while improving land conservation outcomes. “The Chesapeake Bay region is home to a diversity of landscapes, historic places, ecosystems, and wildlife as well as an increasing number of pipeline and electricity transmission projects,” said John Griffin, program manager for the Partnership. “Energy facilities present the region with ...

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Reclaiming History

Older woman standing in front of a broken down wood house structure.
The Washington Post reported last week on new findings about the extent of the Rappahannock Tribe's vast range and standing within the Chesapeake region. Archaeologist Julia King and Scott Strickland, an expert in geographic information systems, have used archaeological, environmental and historical data to predict the locations of Rappahannock settlements. As the Post writes, "the emerging story undercuts what Western historians have asserted for 400 years about the shape of native culture when the Europeans arrived in America, and it restores the place of the ...

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See How Climate is Changing at the County Level

The Bay Journal reported recently on a new tool displaying climate changes at the county level for most of the Chesapeake watershed and the northeast US. An interactive map allows the user to hover over a county and see trends in temperature, precipitation and growing season. The patterns are pretty clear. As Bay Journal notes: "climate data ranging from 1950-2013 in each county underscores that the vast majority of the watershed is getting hotter and rainier." A few examples cited by the Journal: In Franklin County in south-central Pennsylvania, the ...

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Virginia Governor Signs Order to Address Climate Threats

Last Friday (November 2), Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed an executive order setting out steps to improve resiliency to sea-level rise and natural hazards associated with climate change. Perhaps the most significant element of the order is the directive to complete and implement a "Virginia Coastal Resilience Master Plan." The plan, to be developed by the Chief Resilience Officer in consultation with local governments, state and federal agencies and non-governmental stakeholders, has several required standards. Among those related to land conservation is that ...

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One Billion for Land and Ocean Conservation

Today's New York Times includes an opinion piece by philanthropist Hansjörg Wyss in which he pledges to donate $1 billion over the next decade to land and ocean conservation. Wyss is motivated by both the negative--the startling ongoing loss of biodiversity--and the positive--the growing movement around the nation and the globe to protect the planet. He seeks to "accelerate land and ocean conservation efforts around the world, with the goal of protecting 30 percent of the planet’s surface by 2030." Wyss states "this money will support locally led conservation ...

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