Governor Larry Hogan Reaffirms Commitment to Natural Resources
Budget Fully Funds Chesapeake Bay Restoration and Land Conservation Programs,
Establishes New Grant Program to Help Communities Adapt to Climate Change and Sea Level Rise
The Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund will receive $51.3 million in Fiscal Year 2018, marking only the second time in state history that bay restoration efforts will be fully funded.
This funding was outlined last week in Governor Larry Hogan’s budget, which also included enhanced funding for land conservation programs such as Program Open Space, and additional support for the Natural Resources Police.
“The governor’s budget reaffirms his commitment to the environment and our treasured natural resources, including the Chesapeake Bay,” said Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary Mark Belton. “His budget is reflective of the governor’s assertive and optimistic environmental agenda and priorities, and clearly demonstrates his support of the department’s efforts and progress on conservation, enforcement and restoration.”
Some of the highlights of the governor’s budget include:
- Bay Restoration: Full funding for the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund for the second consecutive year. The “Trust Fund” helps local communities improve the health of the bay through the use of innovative techniques and scientifically proven technologies. It only funds the most efficient and effective water quality improvement projects.
- Land Conservation: Full funding for transfer tax-funded land conservation programs, including the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation, Program Open Space and Rural Legacy Program. The governor restored funding levels that were siphoned off by previous administrations. The enhanced funding will help the department conserve and preserve more land to meet its watershed goals.
- Law Enforcement: $1.9 million to support the addition of 17 new Natural Resources Police officers, who are charged with protecting Maryland’s natural resources, public lands, waterways. Maryland’s oldest state law enforcement agency enforces state conservation laws as well as boating and hunting safety. Funding will also support the department’s restored aviation capability.
- Supporting Parks: The budget increases funding to the Maryland Park Service by $3.9 million to assist with essential equipment and maintenance needs. Additional funding is dedicated to hiring more seasonal employees to support the record number of visitors to our public lands.
Additionally, the governor’s budget includes funding for a new Coastal Resiliency Program grant program established to aid coastal communities enhance resiliency to the effects of climate change and extreme weather. The Building Resiliency through Restoration program will help design six demonstration shoreline improvement projects in five jurisdictions across the state, from Southern Maryland to the Lower Eastern Shore.
“Maryland is one of the most vulnerable states to the effects of climate change, particularly sea level rise,” Belton said. “This innovative new program – the first of its kind – will complement existing department resiliency and restoration programs by supporting local efforts designed to protect vulnerable locations and populations through the innovative use of ‘green infrastructure’ and natural defenses.”
The new grant program complements the department’s work on the Maryland Commission on Climate Change and commitment to the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement.