Skip to Main Content

Secretary’s Message – August 2023

It’s a new day for Maryland’s Bays

Photo of three people with shovels planting a tree by the water's edge

Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller, Gov. Wes Moore, and Secretary Josh Kurtz plant an oak tree at Wye Mills Natural Resources Management Area for “Bay Day,” July 20, 2023. Photo by Joseph Andrucyk, Maryland State House

Governor Wes Moore recently announced a new strategy for how Maryland will deploy state resources to improve water quality in our waterways by better aligning our ongoing Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Coastal Bays cleanup efforts with the latest science. 

A major study released in May by leading Chesapeake Bay scientists continued to show watershed states struggling to reduce nonpoint sources of pollution – the runoff being washed from our farms, cities, and suburbs. This challenge continues to prevent residents and visitors in parts of our state from having access to clean water. In response, we’re shifting Maryland’s waterway cleanup efforts to more effectively tackle nonpoint source pollution. The associated work will also help build resiliency for communities facing threats from a changing climate. 

While we have seen some success to reduce pollution in the Bay through programs like our Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund, a new approach is due for multiple reasons. We must combine our work to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus pollution with accelerated efforts to improve habitat and bolster wildlife populations, protect our most vulnerable communities from the impacts of climate change, and provide economic and recreational opportunities for all our citizens.

The new focus on increasing wildlife habitat will help striped bass and blue crab populations recover. Our ongoing effort to plant 5 million new trees in Maryland during the next decade will add new streamside buffers along rural and suburban areas as well as increase tree canopy in our cities to prevent polluted runoff and cool temperatures. As rising sea levels and stronger storms due to climate change threaten Maryland, we’ll be looking to expand marshes and reconnect streams and rivers to their floodplains to mitigate flooding threats.

Throughout our efforts to reach these goals, we will work closely with our communities, our partners, and our citizens to make sure everyone understands our actions and why we are taking them. 

Working together, Maryland will become the first state in the Bay watershed to embrace the latest scientific recommendations to improve our land and clean our waterways, which will help ensure future generations can enjoy the way-of-life that makes Maryland unique.

Josh Kurtz is Secretary of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.