Most of us in this region have seen cars with a “Save the Bay” bumper sticker. But have you ever stopped to think about what you can do to turn that simple, yet powerful slogan into reality? The answer is that each of us can make a real difference. To find out how, we hope you will join us for the first annual “Back to the Bay” on June 10 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Mason Neck State Park.
As members of the Chesapeake Bay Commission, a tri-state legislative commission representing Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia, we work to advance policies to restore and protect the Chesapeake Bay. Last year the Chesapeake Bay Commission established the second week of June as Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week.
We did this to engage residents about what is being done to combat polluted runoff and what more needs to be done to restore this precious resource for the enjoyment of future generations. Fewer pollutants in local streams, rivers, and other tributaries means cleaner water, thriving underwater grasses, and rebounding fish, crabs, and oyster stocks in the Chesapeake Bay. Everyone, seafood producers, the sporting community, and those who use the Bay for recreation will benefit.
The good news is that we have much to celebrate! Virginia has made measurable progress toward reducing nutrient and sediment pollution and we are on track to reach our 2017 milestones. Thanks to these efforts, underwater grasses are at highs not seen in decades. Summer dead zones, places where the water has no oxygen to support fish and shellfish, have been decreasing.
To be sure, the work of restoring the Chesapeake Bay is not complete. In fact, the last phase of effort toward our 2025 deadline will almost certainly be our toughest. And Virginia can’t do it alone! With a drainage area of approximately 64,000 miles, restoring the Bay can only be accomplished through a collaborative approach. Virginia, along with our partner states, the District of Columbia, and local governments must continue to prioritize the programs and funding necessary to better manage runoff from farmlands and suburban and urban development.
Virginia has strong bipartisan support for the Chesapeake Bay. Our fellow legislators work “across the aisle” and with the Governor to implement pragmatic solutions. Local governments, private businesses, farmers, and conservation organizations have all joined the effort.
The federal government must also continue to be a key partner. Funding at the federal level goes toward critical monitoring and modeling programs to ensure that our efforts are based on real science and not political science. Federal funding is also used to leverage state and local resources for on-the-ground best management practices that are necessary to meet our targets on time.
At “Back to the Bay” participants will literally be asked to turn their back to the Bay during the program. Why? It is a symbolic gesture to highlight how most of the work to restore the Bay is about what is upstream – that is, literally where we live and work. Ordinary people, by making small changes, can make big differences!
At Back to the Bay, you’ll be able to explore history and better understand the living resources of the Bay and our local rivers. You’ll see practical ways to reduce pollution going to the Bay, including how to join a stream clean-up project, purchase a Chesapeake Bay license plate (with proceeds dedicated to Bay education and restoration), build a rain garden or a rain barrel at your home, test your soil before fertilizing the lawn, along with many other actions. Over 30 organizations will be there and are excited to share what they know while having lots of fun at the same time!
We hope you will join us and bring family and friends. Help us to ensure that our children will grow up with the joys of swimming and fishing in a clean Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay.
Back to the Bay
Del. L. Scott Lingamfelter, Republican State Delegate representing parts of Fauquier and Prince William counties and Del. David L. Bulova, Democratic State Delegate representing the City of Fairfax and part of Fairfax County are both members of the bi-partisan Chesapeake Bay Commission. They are encouraging Virginians to take part in the “Back to the Bay” event that will be held June 10 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Mason Neck State Park, 7301 High Point Road in Lorton. For more information about Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week and Back to the Bay, visit www.vcnva.org/chesapeake-bay-awareness-week/ and follow the event on Facebook at www.facebook.com/events/249460912171565/.