With a backdrop of the community greenway and bio-retention gardens of the Miramar Landing development in Middle River, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) announced over $12.6 million in grants to support and restore the Chesapeake Bay on Tuesday, September 19. One of the recipients was the Gunpowder Valley Conservancy, which took home a $200,000 grant from the Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund and $591,000 in matching donations.
The non-profit organization focuses on reducing pollution in the Gunpowder watershed through targeted citizen-based environmental restoration projects, like their Clear Creeks Project, which encourages the installation of rain gardens and rain barrels on a residents’ property to reduce storm run-off and water pollution.
Jim Martin, the Board President of the Gunpowder Valley Conservancy, said this money from NFWF will be used to support Watershed Restoration and Education programs over the next two years covering over seven acres in the Lower Gunpowder Falls, Bird River, Middle River, and Tidal Gunpowder watersheds.
“The Clear Creeks project is a great example of partnering together to tap the passion of the residents to make the world a little bit better. This is truly a grant-funded, but community-based project,” said Martin. “The passion and spirit of the Clear Creek project came from the people that live in this community.”
As a reference to the work GVC does, he gestured to the landscape around him. In the summer of 2016, Miramar Landing earned a Bay-Wise certification through bay-friendly gardening practices, including the planting of dozens of local plants that both mitigate storm water run-off and attract pollinators as a part of Clear Creeks through previous NFWF grants.
Based on a foundational partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Chesapeake Bay Program, 44 grants totaling $12.6 million, along with $21.3 million in additional matched funds, were given to watershed programs across six states.
“With assistance from our partners, the projects will mobilize communities to install stormwater best management practices, plant trees and clean up streams with a focus on the upland areas of four Baltimore County stream restoration projects,” states the GVC.
“The grants announced here today are about government, business, and conservation groups coming together to develop practical methods to minimize urban agriculture and commercial impacts on the Chesapeake Bay,” said Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger. He added that every year the Chesapeake Bay contributes $1 trillion to the region’s economy and that letting the Bay continue to erode would lead to “ecological and economic catastrophe.”
Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz praised the work of the GVC, saying that the volunteers there provide a crucial service in reaching out and educating entire communities on how they can limit their environmental impact.
“We have a proud history in Baltimore County of protecting the environment. Every year we spend more than 25 million through our Department of Environment and Sustainability doing simple things like planting trees, and not-so-simple things like rebuilding eroding stream banks,” said Kamenetz, who added that GVC exemplifies this with “their feet on the ground and feet in the water with getting things done.”
Jake Riley, the Director of Chesapeake Bay Programs at NFWF said the funded programs will reduce nutrient sediment pollution by a combined 8.4 million pounds, restore over 160 miles of stream-side habitats, permanently protect 2000 acres of sustainably managed agricultural land while treating stormwater from more than 200 acres of suburban and urban impervious surface and restoring 140 acres of wetlands.
“Now more than ever, we need innovation and collaboration to restore the Bay, with seed money for growing partnerships and sharing talents locally and regionally,” said Maryland Department of the Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles. “Citizens need to be able to see a real clear path to the progress we all want.”
For more information on the Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund and a full list of grantees, visit www.nfwf.org/chesapeake.
For more information on the Gunpowder Conservancy, visit www.gunpowdervalleyconservancy.org.