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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Responding to the Chesapeake Bay Executive Order

In May of 2009, President Obama issued an Executive Order mandating renewed focus on conservation efforts for America's iconic Chesapeake Bay estuary. The EO required the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Homeland Security, Interior, Transportation to collectively prepare a series of draft reports with recommendations covering the following areas:

  • Define the next generation of tools and actions to restore water quality in the Bay and describe the changes to be made to regulations, programs and policies to implement these actions.
  • Target resources to better protect the Bay and its rivers, particularly in agricultural conservation practices.
  • Strengthen storm water management practices for federal facilities and federal land within the Bay watershed and develop a best practices guide for reducing polluted runoff.
  • Assess the impacts of climate change on the Bay and develop a strategy for adapting programs and infrastructure to these impacts.
  • Expand public access to the Bay and its rivers from federal lands and conserve landscapes of the watershed.
  • Expand environmental research, monitoring and observation to strengthen scientific support for decision-making on Bay restoration issues.
  • Develop focused and coordinated habitat and research activities that protect and restore living resources and water quality.

On September 9, the agencies released their draft reports. Key recommendations from the report on climate change included the following:

  1. Develop a centralized Chesapeake Bay climate change coordination program to address climate adaptation activities and management decisions throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed;
  2. Integrate climate change concerns into Chesapeake Bay Program activities and strengthen legislative authority;
  3. Enhance existing and/or develop new technical information and decision support tools to better understand, project, and respond to climate change and its impacts e.g., modeling, observation stations, remote sensing, etc.;
  4. Establish adaptation guidance for managing federal programs, federally-managed lands, and federally financed state, local, and private lands;
  5. Develop a coordinated strategy for climate change outreach and education; and
  6. Develop federally coordinated plans for supporting climate change adaptations.

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