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Thursday, April 3, 2008

Obama For The Chesapeake Bay?

Jack Lynch

I suppose some would see minor additions to the Obama campaign as a non-news event, not even up to the level of an appointment after election, but as far as local connections and background go – the move of David Bancroft from the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay Presidency to an Obama campaign job is great news.

Coupled with his years of Congressional experience with Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold, he will add a great deal of knowledge and legislative legacy work. Elections are vital and symbolic, but administrations are where the rubber hits the road, and Bancroft taking a seat with Obama bodes well for the Bay and a variety of progressive social issues.

Kohl has stood for children, seniors, farmers and lowering health care costs. Feingold adds human rights, environmental issues, veterans, and consumer protection to the mix. He was considered a possible executive level candidate in this cycle. "As I sort of think about where the country is going, this is a historic opportunity," Bancroft said in an interview with me a few minutes ago. "I am absolutely excited" about working for Barack Obama." said Bancroft.

The Alliance …work(s)…quietly, with a headquarters in Towson. Its strength, as the name suggests, is building partnerships with government and private industry to plant trees, restore streams or build better-planned neighborhoods. It also pays for the EPA Bay Program's press people in Annapolis, and has staff within its forests program. Link

I can commend the work of the Alliance, having participated in their two annual Watershed Networking Conferences, held at the US Fish and Wildlife Service's National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, WV.

In their quiet unassuming way, they brought together several hundred stakeholders who participate at every level of Bay efforts, from the EPA to community stream associations throughout six states. Unusual in the competitiveness of the non-profit 'survivability' sector, they also hosted sessions to learn directly from Bay funders about their requirements, process and proposal systems.

From the confusing array of programs, perhaps we'll see an effort by the Federal government to finally dedicate itself to the health of the Chesapeake in a way that is meaningful, comprehensive, and most importantly, funded.

The science of Bay health, much like the science of global warming, is clear. The application and effectiveness of efforts has lagged the awareness of the science. Much must occur locally, but far too much has been left on local governments. Given the issues of development and stream protection, the state needs to take a stronger hand if the growing megalopolis of the region is to manage its effects of our waters.

The University of Maryland's Center for Environmental Science will be releasing its second-annual Chesapeake Bay report card today. It grades the rivers, and it uses real monitoring data, crunched by a team of scientists, database experts and water-quality analysts. It gave the Bay an overall grade of D+ for 2006.

The report will be available here and in regional news reports.

Locally, the Monocacy Scenic River Citizen's Advisory Board, a joint committee between Frederick and Carroll counties in Maryland,of which I am a member, is working on a Monocacy River Report Card which will focus on our local watershed.

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