The Chesapeake Bay Bridge seen from Virginia Beach. Tourism to the beack is only one part of the economy of the Bay. Photo courtesy of Ole Bendik Kvisberg via Wikimedia Commons.
President Donald Trump’s proposed budget has one stipulation that affects all environmentalists and specifically those who live in Maryland. This proposal directly impacts the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund. The intended budget would cut funds from $73 million to $7.3 million, a 90 percent reduction. A similar proposal last year was rejected by Congress, therefore this proposal may not pass the initial planning stage.
This budget cut would be detrimental to the Chesapeake Bay’s health, which has shown improvement over recent years. In 2016, the Bay received a C “grade,” one of the highest ever calculated by scientists. Fish populations have also shown steady growth, reflected by their recent A grade. Experts say that with the threat of looming budget cuts, these essential improvements may begin to deteriorate.
Democratic Senator Ben Cardin stated, regarding last year’s similar budget cut proposal, “much of what’s now better in the Chesapeake Bay has been made possible because the federal government has been a strong and stable partner. But the gains in the Bay’s health will disappear quickly if the federal government vacillates in its commitment to the nation’s largest estuary.”
Carly Toulan, a senior majoring in geography and environmental science, believes that “the 90 percent budget cut to the Chesapeake Bay would not only ruin the chances for the bay to make any future progress, but it would devastate the numerous organizations and people who have worked so hard to preserve the Chesapeake Bay’s watershed.”
The Bay is an integral part of the environment and economy, not just in Maryland, but also in neighboring states that the estuary runs through. As North America’s largest estuary, its impact is great. The Bay’s health is not only important in regards to conservation efforts, it represents countless jobs in relation to the fishing industry, tourism and even the housing market.
If the health of the Bay continues to improve and fish populations increase, then the numerous fish markets, seafood restaurants and other related industries will no longer have to worry about going out of business. The Bay contributes to a large portion of Maryland’s economy, and the threat of decreasing preservation attempts would be detrimental to the entire state.
Research shows that the seafood industry in Maryland and Virginia contributed to $3.39 billion in sales, $890 million in income, and provided 34,000 jobs. This shows the the Bay’s is not just an arbitrary subject only conservationists care about, but instead an immense influence on the East Coast economy.
In regards to Trump’s administration’s view on environmental matters, Toulan said, “I think Trump needs to hire people in his administration that have actual experience and knowledge on environmental issues … and that he needs to take these problems much more seriously.”
The Bay’s significance is not only limited to Maryland, but to Delaware, DC, and Virginia directly. There are also major rivers that the estuary runs through in six additional states. Without this important natural resource, we will not only lose an irreplaceably beautiful estuary, but also billions of dollars in economic growth across several states.