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Secretary’s Message — July 2021

Leaving a Positive Impact in our Wake

Photo of sunset over Chesapeake Bay

Photo by Krystle Chick, 2015 submission to the Maryland DNR Photo Contest.

I was saddened to hear of the passing of Dr. Sarah Taylor-Rogers, former Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary, Maryland Environmental Trust board member, and longtime leader and champion of environmental stewardship in Maryland.

Dr. Taylor-Rogers was the first woman to head our department and her public service and dedication to conservation will long be remembered. We will benefit from her legacy for generations to come.

In keeping with her legacy of stewardship, I recently joined Maryland Department of the Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles and other partners in announcing the 2020 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Report Card issued by the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, which gives the Chesapeake watershed a grade of B- for 2020 and an improved overall Chesapeake Bay health score of a C.

The significance of this report card is that it helps measure both short-term and long-term progress toward our goals and allows us to identify trends in bay conditions. DNR is proud to have collaborated on this effort for almost 40 years by collecting, managing, and analyzing the Maryland data reflected in the report card.

Contributing to that success is the work we have been doing with Maryland’s communities. Through our streamlined Grants Gateway process, we have helped coordinate more than $35 million in state and federal support for hundreds of projects and initiatives that are protecting and enhancing the Bay watershed. 

I thank Governor Hogan for his continued leadership on the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund, which is providing $22 million for the most cost-effective and viable non-point source projects to reduce nutrients and sediments in the Bay. 

Additionally, late last month, I joined Governor Hogan and Maryland Commerce Secretary Kelly M. Schulz at the Ocean City Fire Department to announce $13.5 million in Waterway Improvement Fund grants for Fiscal Year 2022 to enhance and improve public boating access, facilities, and navigation throughout the state.

Photo of Secretary RiccioWe are pleased to demonstrate Maryland’s commitment to keeping our waters safe, accessible and open for outdoor recreation through these grant awards. The Waterway Improvement Fund is an essential program that benefits all waterway users.

Protecting our waterway users is an important task led by our Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP). I welcome our new deputy superintendent of NRP, 29-year department veteran Robert C. Kersey. Major Kersey’s tenure and extensive professional experience will be a great benefit to our department, especially given NRP’s unique mission of protecting both Maryland’s citizens and natural resources.

These are shining examples of leaders and programs that support our mission, serve our citizens, and contribute to our success every day.

Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio is Secretary of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.