Chesapeake Bay Report Discusses Restoration Challenges, Successe

Overall water quality and habitats in the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem in 2005 were at about one-third of restoration goals, according to the Chesapeake Bay Program.

That assessment, contained in a draft report issued on March 31, shows that the large number of restoration programs put in place by local, state and federal agencies have made modest ecological improvements in some areas. Those efforts, however have been limited by additional ecological pressures generated by the watershed's burgeoning population, now at more than 16 million.

The Chesapeake Bay 2005 Health and Restoration Assessment seeks to provide a clear and concise synopsis of Chesapeake Bay health and the on-the-ground restoration efforts taking place across its 64,000-square-mile watershed. This year's report marks the first step in a three-year plan to expand and improve the program's annual reports on the bay. Future assessments will integrate mapping components to detail geographic variations in Bay and watershed health with the overall goal of helping watershed residents better understand conditions in their part of the Bay watershed.

"The report compares Bay health and improvement efforts to long-term goals designed to restore Chesapeake Bay. This comparison helps watershed residents better relate the health of the Bay today with the restoration efforts still needed to bring the system back into balance," said Carlton Haywood, bay program monitoring and assessment chairperson. In addition to chairing bay program monitoring efforts, Haywood also serves as director for Program Operations for the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin, a Bay Program partner organization.

"We are asking the scientific community to peer review this report to ensure it most accurately represents our understanding of the health of the Chesapeake Bay," said Chesapeake Bay Program Director Rebecca Hanmer. "At the same time, we're asking watershed residents and other stakeholders to let us know if the report is presented in a way that is easily understandable, has the right amount of information, and is in a format they can use."

Since its inception in 1983, the Chesapeake Bay Program has relied on citizen and stakeholder input as a key component of bay restoration. Watershed residents are encouraged to comment on the report through May 31. Comments can be submitted through the Bay Program's website or by mailing comments to CBHRA Comments; Chesapeake Bay Program Office; 410 Severn Ave., Suite 109; Annapolis, MD 21403.

Additional information on the report can be accessed at http://www.chesapeakebay.net/assess/index.htm.

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