House CJS Appropriations

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March 13, 2018    

The Honorable John Culberson, Chairman

Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies H-310

The Capitol U.S. House of Representatives Washington, D.C. 20515
 


The Honorable José Serrano, Ranking Minority Member

Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies

1016 Longworth House Office Building U.S. House of Representatives Washington, D.C. 20515
 


Dear Chairman Culberson and Ranking Member Serrano:


The undersigned members of the Choose Clean Water Coalition request continued support for programs that are essential to maintaining a healthy and vibrant Chesapeake Bay and a strong regional economy that is dependent on the Bay’s resources. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has a strong and long term presence in the Chesapeake Bay area, and its Chesapeake Bay Office coordinates their efforts with other federal agencies, state and local partners and users of the resource.
The programs that are run and/or coordinated by NOAA’s Chesapeake Bay Office (NCBO) are critical for the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem and for its users and residents. These programs provide the science and management assistance necessary for those whose livelihood is to ply the Bay’s waters for fish, crabs and oysters and to the hundreds of thousands of people who fish recreationally in the Bay every year and to the millions who boat, kayak, and/or view wildlife in the region.
NCBO is also critical for others, from students learning about science with hands-on experiences to local governments and residents along the shore to have the latest information to prepare for coastal flooding and hurricane emergencies.
Utilizing sound science in the management of Chesapeake Bay resources is critical for our regional economy. We request the following funding levels in Fiscal Year 2019: Department of Commerce
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – Chesapeake Bay Office (NCBO) - $9.25 million
The NCBO was established by Congress in 1992 to provide resources, technical assistance and coordination through its two branches: the Ecosystem Science and Synthesis Program, which focuses on applied research and monitoring in fisheries and aquatic habitats; synthesis, and analysis to describe and predict Bay ecosystem processes; and technical assistance to Chesapeake Bay decision makers.
 The second branch is Environmental Literacy and Partnerships Program, which focuses on the development of K-12 and higher education environmental science education programs; strategic partnerships with the Chesapeake Bay Program and other government, university, and nonprofit partners; and delivering NOAA products, services, and programs to targeted audiences.
The Office’s programs play a key role in implementing the voluntary Chesapeake Bay Agreement among the states and is critical to ensuring that commitments are met to:  • restore native oyster habitat and populations in 10 tributaries by the year 2025; • ensure students graduate with the knowledge and skills to protect and restore their local watershed; • sustain a healthy blue crab and striped bass (rockfish) population; and • maintain a coordinated watershed-wide monitoring and research program. The specific breakdown of our request for $9.25 million for the NCBO is as follows: • Oyster Restoration - $4 million The Chesapeake Bay oyster population is less than 1 percent of historic levels and the ecosystem functions associated with oyster reefs, including fish habitat and nitrogen removal, are similarly diminished. NCBO has built on past success to restore entire tributaries, with self-sustaining oyster populations and to measure the resulting ecosystem benefits. NCBO works with federal, state and private partners to plan and implement this tributary-scale restoration in both Maryland and Virginia. Funding for oyster restoration in the Chesapeake was also done through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, but they have not received funding in a number of years. Funding for this key program has eroded sharply since FY2010, and without Army Corps funds, NOAA is the only Federal agency left to continue this key restoration program.
 
• Environmental Education and Literacy - $3.5 million NCBO encourages and supports efforts in K-12 and higher education to develop and implement comprehensive environmental literacy programs. NCBO runs the nationally recognized Bay Watershed Education and Training Program (B-WET) - a competitive grant program for hands-on watershed education for students and teacher training to foster stewardship of the Chesapeake Bay. B-WETs funding has steadily eroded since 2010 and should be restored to at least that level.
 
• Fisheries Science and Management - $1 million Recreational and commercial fisheries are among the most valuable economic activities for the coastal communities of the Bay. Fishing pressure, habitat loss, invasive species, degraded water quality, and toxics affect these important fisheries, including striped bass (rockfish), blue crabs, oysters, menhaden and cow-nosed rays. NOAA supports well-managed Chesapeake Bay fisheries and the habitats they depend on by delivering timely ecosystem-based science and forecasts to science and management partners. Historically, the states have looked to NCBO to conduct stock assessments, particularly for blue crabs. Each state
often has its own assessment data, but NOAA’s ability to look at the stocks for the entire Bay is critical. Each stock assessment costs approximately $500,000.
 
• Chesapeake Bay Interpretive Buoy System (CBIBS) - $750,000 The Chesapeake Bay ecosystem is dynamic, and water quality is driven by variable local and regional forces. High quality data is needed to monitor, understand, forecast, and provide information for science-based decisions and needs to be continuously measured and summarized. NCBO maintains the CBIBS, a network of 10 buoys that collects and relays near-real-time data to users. This supports public access to the Bay and boater safety on the water through the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail, administered by the National Park Service.  Thank you for your consideration of these very important requests to maintain funding for programs that are critical to the health of the Chesapeake Bay and its natural resources. Please contact Peter J. Marx at 410-905-2515 or Peter@ChooseCleanWater.org with any questions or concerns.
 
Sincerely,
 
1000 Friends of Maryland

Alice Ferguson Foundation

Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay

American Chestnut Land Trust

American Rivers

Anacostia Watershed Society

Audubon Naturalist Society

Audubon Society of Northern Virginia

Back Creek Conservancy

Baltimore Tree Trust

Blue Heron Environmental Network

Blue Ridge Watershed Coalition

Blue Water Baltimore

Cacapon Institute

Capital Region Land Conservancy

Catskill Mountainkeeper

Center for Progressive Reform

Chapman Forest Foundation

Chesapeake Bay Foundation

Chesapeake Legal Alliance

Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage

Clean Fairfax

Clean Water Action

Coalition for Smarter Growth

Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania

Delaware Nature Society

Ducks Unlimited


Earth Force

Earth Forum of Howard County

Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation

Elizabeth River Project

Elk Creeks Watershed Association

Environmental Working Group

Friends of Accotink Creek

Friends of Dyke Marsh

Friends of Lower Beaverdam Creek

Friends of Quincy Run

Friends of St. Clements Bay

Friends of Sligo Creek

Friends of the Middle River Friends of the Nanticoke River

Friends of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River

Friends of the Rappahannock

Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake

James River Association

Lackawanna River Conservation Association

Lancaster Farmland Trust

Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper

Lutheran Advocacy Ministry in Pennsylvania

Lynnhaven River NOW

Maryland Conservation Council

Maryland Environmental Health Network

Maryland League of Conservation Voters

Maryland Native Plant Society

Mattawoman Watershed Society

Mehoopany Creek Watershed Association

Mid-Atlantic Council Trout Unlimited

Mid-Atlantic Youth Anglers & Outdoor Partners

Montgomery Countryside Alliance

Muddy Branch Alliance

National Aquarium

National Parks Conservation Association

National Wildlife Federation

Natural Resources Defense Council

Nature Abounds

Neighbors of the Northwest Branch

New York League of Conservation Voters

New York State Council of Trout Unlimited

Otsego County Conservation Association

Otsego Land Trust

PennEnvironment

PennFuture

Pennsylvania Council of Churches

Piedmont Environmental Council

Potomac Conservancy

Potomac Riverkeeper

Potomac Riverkeeper Network

Prince William Conservation Alliance

Queen Anne’s Conservation Association

Rachel Carson Council

Rivanna Conservation Alliance

Rivertown Coalition for Clean Air and Clean Water

Rock Creek Conservancy

St. Mary's River Watershed Association

Savage River Watershed Association

Severn River Association

Shenandoah Riverkeeper

Shenandoah Valley Network

ShoreRivers

Sidney Center Improvement Group

Sleepy Creek Watershed Association

South River Federation

Southern Environmental Law Center

Southern Maryland Audubon Society

SouthWings

Sparks-Glencoe Community Planning Council

Susquehanna Heritage

The Downstream Project

Trash Free Maryland

Upper Potomac Riverkeeper

Upper Susquehanna Coalition

Virginia Conservation Network

Virginia Eastern Shorekeeper

Virginia Interfaith Power and Light

Virginia League of Conservation Voters

Warm Springs Watershed Association

Water Defense

Waterkeepers Chesapeake West/Rhode Riverkeeper

West Virginia Citizens Action Group

West Virginia Environmental Council

West Virginia Highlands Conservancy

West Virginia Rivers Coalition

Wicomico Environmental Trust