Representatives from the states of Chesapeake Bay, the District of Columbia, the Chesapeake Bay Commission (CBC), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently met to discuss the effects of climate change on the 64,000 square mile Chesapeake Bay watershed – Cooperstown, NY, to their meeting point at the Brock Environmental Center in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
At the meeting, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, and CBC Chairman David Bulova, along with their colleagues, signed a guideline committing the Chesapeake Bay Program to addressing the increasing threats of climate change in all Address aspects of partnership work.
In particular, the Bay Program partners will leverage their world-class scientific, modeling, monitoring and planning capabilities to prioritize the communities, work areas and habitats most vulnerable to the risks climate change poses to the region.
“I firmly believe that through non-partisan cooperation as a region, we can and will find real, sensible solutions to combat climate change and protect Chesapeake Bay,” said Hogan. “These challenges are too important to miss this opportunity to take action now.”
Prior to the public meeting at which the Directive was signed, Council members, commissioners and guests joined Pamela Northam, First Lady of the Commonwealth of Virginia; and educators, including Imani Black, the founder of Minorities in Aquaculture; Melissa Deas, acting chief resilience officer for the District of Columbia; and Mark Luckenbach, Assistant Dean of Research and Advice at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) aboard a VIMS ship for their own Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience – a term used only in the Chesapeake Bay Program to describe students will environmental education above and in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
On board, participants were able to see firsthand an area that is considered the zero point for climate change. The Virginia Beach and Hampton Roads area is experiencing some of the highest rates of sea level rise and coastal flooding on the east coast.
The Virginia Coastal Resilience Master Planning Framework notes that sea level in the area has seen a relative rise in sea level of more than 18 inches over the past 100 years and is expected to rise even faster in the future due to heavier rainfall and other extreme weather conditions.
Members, officers and guests also looked at possible solutions for managing climate impacts, including tree canopy, a living shoreline and an oyster restoration site.
The talks also revolved around climate inequality and reaffirmed the actions taken by the council from the previous year when they signed a declaration in which diversity, equity, inclusion and equity are a priority in all of the work of the Bay program. In the newly enacted Guideline No. 21-1 Collective Action for Climate Change, the Bay program specifically commits to prioritizing marginalized communities in providing the necessary resources, including an emphasis on wetlands, canopy and environmental literacy, to make the impact a changing. adapt climate.
“The climate directive we are signing today is the latest example of why this partnership is so important,” said David Bulova, chairman of the Chesapeake Bay Commission. “Collective action enables us to apply the best science possible so that we can understand and mitigate the effects of changing climates and prioritize resources for our most vulnerable communities. We have to do this if we want a more resilient landscape and watershed. “
In June 2014, the Executive Board signed the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement with the vision of creating an environmentally and economically sustainable drainage basin with clean water, abundant life, protected land and access to water, a vibrant cultural heritage, and a diverse range of committed citizens and stakeholders.
Established more than 37 years ago, the Chesapeake Executive Council is responsible for running the policy agenda and setting conservation and restoration goals for the regional watershed partnership, the Chesapeake Bay Program. Members include the governors of Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia, the mayor of the District of Columbia, the chairman of the CBC, and the administrator of the EPA on behalf of the federal government. Virginia Governor Ralph Northam currently chairs the Chesapeake Executive Council, which will meet in Richmond, Virginia in December 2021.
“Over the past year we have seen more land being preserved along the Nanticoke River, leading to the opening of new parks, including Nanticoke Crossing, and increased public access to our waterways,” said Delaware governor John Carney in one Explanation. “With ongoing water quality projects supported by our state’s adoption of the Clean Water for Delaware Act and sustainable water collection practices, our residents and visitors will find more recreational and economic opportunities in Delaware’s section of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.”