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Clean Water and the Bay

Maryland LCV Lauds Senators Cardin and Van Hollen for Chesapeake Bay Funding Efforts

Maryland LCV Lauds Senators Cardin and Van Hollen for Chesapeake Bay Funding Efforts

U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin (both D-Md.) are leading Democratic senators from throughout the Chesapeake Bay Watershed in urging the leadership of the Senate Committee on Appropriations to support strong funding levels for several agencies and programs vital to the recovery and stewardship of the Chesapeake Bay. The Senators’ funding request is here.

“The Chesapeake Bay is a natural treasure that is crucial to Maryland’s voters, watermen, businesses, and tourism,” said Maryland LCV Executive Director Kim Coble. “Senators Cardin and Van Hollen have long fought to restore the Chesapeake and for sound water policies that ensure everyone in Maryland has clean water to drink, explore, and enjoy. We once again thank Maryland’s Senators for their efforts to ensure the Chesapeake Bay’s continued restoration is fully funded and prioritized.”

The American Jobs Plan will Build Maryland Back Better

The American Jobs Plan will Build Maryland Back Better

Every four years, the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Report Card for America’s Infrastructure depicts the condition and performance of American infrastructure in the familiar form of a school report card—assigning letter grades based on the physical condition and needed investments for improvement.

In 2021, Maryland received a lackluster “C” grade, and the country’s infrastructure as a whole fared even worse, earning a “C-“ grade.  The Biden Administration’s American Jobs Plan would make an historic investment in addressing the nation’s significant infrastructure challenges and help to raise our grade.

The American Jobs Plan will mobilize the country to address the climate crisis and  long-standing and persistent racial injustice. The plan targets 40 percent of the benefits of climate and clean infrastructure investments to disadvantaged communities. And the plan also invests in rural communities and communities impacted by the market-based transition to clean energy.

Sign the petition today asking our congressional leaders to lead the way on this critical legislation>>

Here is just a sampling of key areas where the plan has the potential to deliver big for Maryland:

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: Maryland suffers from some of the worst public transit in the nation. Marylanders who take public transportation spend an extra 66.3% of their time commuting than those in cars and people of color are 2.7 times more likely to commute via public transportation. 

 

RESILIENT INFRASTRUCTURE: From 2010 to 2020, Maryland has experienced 31 extreme weather events, costing the state up to $10 billion in damages. The President is calling for $50 billion to improve the resiliency of our infrastructure and support communities’ recovery from disaster. The plan will upgrade and modernize America’s drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater systems with a focus on green infrastructure and using nature and nature based systems. It will invest in rural small water systems, household wells, and wastewater systems, including drainage fields.

DRINKING WATER: Over the next 20 years, Maryland’s drinking water infrastructure will require $9.3 billion in additional funding. The American Jobs Plan includes a $111 billion national investment to ensure clean, safe drinking water is a right in all communities. The plan will replace 100% of lead pipes and service lines. President Biden’s plan also provides $10 billion in funding to monitor and remediate PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) nationwide.

 

HOME ENERGY: In Maryland, an average low-income family spends 6-8% of their income on home energy costs (compared to the average Maryland family spending 1.8% of income). The AJP will upgrade low-income homes to make them more energy efficient, saving homeowners money.

 

ACCELERATE CHESAPEAKE BAY RESTORATION: A key component of this plan is to protect and, where necessary, restore nature-based infrastructure – our lands, forests, wetlands, watersheds, and coastal and ocean resources. There are over $1 billion in shovel ready projects in Maryland that could be financed through Clean Water State Revolving Funds with help from the American Jobs Plan.

 

GREEN JOBS: The plan will create a New Civilian Climate Corps. This $10 billion investment nationwide will put a new, diverse generation of Americans to work conserving our public lands and waters, bolstering community resilience, and advancing environmental justice.

 

The plan also promises significant upgrades for Maryland and other states in broadband access, manufacturing, clean energy jobs, home energy upgrades, and childcare assistance. You can find a comprehensive fact sheet on the plan’s benefits for Maryland here.

At Maryland LCV, we are committed to creatively and aggressively protecting the state’s land, air, water, and communities, and especially meeting the challenges of the climate crisis. We can’t reach those goals unless Maryland’s infrastructure is improved dramatically in a way that meets the needs of all our residents. The American Jobs Plan’s focus on climate, jobs, and justice positions it as a bold and much-needed investment in Maryland and the country.

Download our Maryland factsheet on the American Jobs Plan here.

And check out the recent polling on what Marylanders think of the American Jobs Plan here:

  • 83% of voters across the state support the American Jobs Plan
  • 83% think it’s important that Congress takes action to address climate change
  • 85% support investments in clean energy jobs
  • 78% support ensuring the benefits of climate and clean energy investments go to the environmental justice communities long exploited by polluters.

On June 22, 2021 we held a Town Hall with Senator Chris Van Hollen and on July 13 we held another Town Hall with Majority Leader Steny Hoyer with over 100 Marylanders at each event to talk about the American Jobs Plan and how it will affect Maryland. Watch the recordings here.

Recordings of Virtual Town Halls with Senator Chris Van Hollen and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer 

Recordings of Virtual Town Halls with Senator Chris Van Hollen and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer

On June 22, 2021 over  a hundred Marylanders tuned in Tuesday afternoon for a virtual Town Hall with special guest Senator Chris Van Hollen to discuss the federal American Jobs Plan and how the plan will directly benefit Marylanders. Community leaders asked the Senator questions about  how he will champion this much-needed economic, environmental, and equity-driven policy.

Check out the recording below and our press release here.

 

On July 13, 2021 a hundred Marylanders tuned in Tuesday afternoon for a virtual Town Hall with special guest Majority Leader Steny Hoyer to discuss the federal Build Back Better package and the American Jobs Plan and how the plan will directly benefit Marylanders. Community leaders asked the Congressmember questions about  how he will champion this much-needed economic, environmental, and equity-driven policy.

Check out the recording below and our press release here.

 

Statement from Maryland LCV on the Biden Administration’s “30 by 30” Plan

Statement from Maryland LCV on the Biden Administration’s “30 by 30” Plan

On May 6, 2021 the Biden Administration released its new “America the Beautiful” report, which outlines steps the U.S. could take to protect 30 percent of U.S. lands and water by 2030. The Maryland League of Conservation Voters released the following statement in response to the announcement:

The Biden Administration’s commitment to conserve 30 percent of U.S. lands, waters, and ocean by 2030 is great news for all Marylanders. The science is clear that conserving and restoring natural areas is an effective strategy to buffer against the worst impacts of climate change. With more than 7,000 miles of shoreline and approximately 265,000 acres of land that is less than five feet above sea level, Maryland’s coastal communities are among the most vulnerable in the country.

In addition, for too long low-income communities and communities of color in Maryland and elsewhere have not had access or representation when decisions that affect green spaces and nature are made. The result has been inequitable distribution of green space and adverse social, economic, and health consequences. The 30 by 30 plan will increase local participation in the decision-making process, bringing forward solutions that work for communities while protecting Maryland’s natural systems that are so crucial to our well-being and economic security. 

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Maryland LCV is known for educating lawmakers and holding them accountable for their leadership and votes on key environmental issues. Their annual scorecard, along with other reports, help inform voters about their legislators’ records.

By |2021-05-06T14:24:54-04:00May 6th, 2021|Categories: Blog, Clean Water and the Bay, Climate Change, DEIJ, Press|Tags: , |0 Comments

ALL HANDS ON DECK FOR FREDERICK COUNTY’S FORESTS

ALL HANDS ON DECK FOR FREDERICK COUNTY’S FORESTS

By Ben Alexandro, Water Policy Director
Originally posted on Choose Clean Water Coalition’s blog

Exactly one year ago this month I pulled up to a tree planting event on a little farm in Thurmont, Maryland. On that crisp autumn morning, 50 volunteers from all walks of life carefully planted hundreds of yellow trees along a winding stream bank. In the years to come, these forests will grow to filter pollution running off the land, help alleviate flooding, and clean the air.

As I spoke with John Smucker of Stream-Link Education while he inspected each sapling in our new forest, I couldn’t help but marvel at the righteousness and purity of planting a tree. But then on the drive home, we passed construction site after construction site. I saw acres upon acres of forest—thousands of trees—replaced by bulldozers and bare ground scarring the landscape. It broke my heart to see the amazing work of those 50 volunteers overshadowed by the destruction of sprawling development projects.

Despite its many tree planting projects, Frederick County was losing forests. Between 2012 and 2019, according to the County government, Frederick County experienced a net loss of about 480 acres of forest, or an average of nearly 70 acres annually. This is because forward-thinking “no net loss of forest” policies were repealed in 2011 by the County Council. After years of perpetual loss, it was time to make a big change.

Advocacy and Leadership to the Rescue!

Addressing the magnitude of Frederick County’s forest loss problem required an all-hands-on-deck effort. Local community groups and many non-profit organizations teamed up with volunteers and advocates to drive change. It’s no surprise that several Choose Clean Water Coalition member organizations were involved, including Maryland League of Conservation Voters, Clean Water Action, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Potomac Conservancy, Sierra Club, Preservation Maryland, Clean Water Linganore, Catoctin Land Trust, Envision Frederick County, and Multifaith Alliance of Climate Stewards of Frederick County. Other coalitions, such as the Smarter Growth Alliance of Frederick County, were instrumental as well.

While the pandemic caused delays, Coalition members ensured the forest bills were front and center for County Council members all year. We generated hundreds of emails, testimony from dozens of advocates, and several sign on letters. Multiple op-eds and newspaper articles urged the county council to remain focused on this incredibly important policy.

And ultimately, the County Council listened.

Success!

Frederick County now has the strongest county forest protections in all of Maryland and is a model to the entire Chesapeake Watershed. Two forward-looking bills made the difference:

  • Forest Resource Ordinance (Bill 20-08): This legislation will stop net forest loss, as at a minimum, every acre of forests cut down will now be replanted. It puts back the protections lost in 2011 when Frederick County was once a leader.

  • Zoning Amendment (Bill 20-07): This legislation requires developers to identify environmental resources in need of protection for all future development projects. At its core, this legislation recognizes that not all development sites are created equal. Some sites have sensitive features like steep slopes, where tree roots are preventing landslides, and floodplains where the forests are slowing and cleaning floodwaters. Some developers fight tooth and nail to maximize construction on these sites just because they are within certain unit density zones. Preserving forests in these areas is critical, and Bill 20-07 excludes sensitive areas from development, saving the county’s most important forests.

Together, these bills will save thousands of acres of the county’s best forests and are huge wins for clean water. This success is thanks to the leadership of the new County Council—and especially the hard work of County Executive Jan Gardner and sponsors Kai Hagen and M.C. Keegan-Ayer—and the ceaseless advocacy of several Choose Clean Water Coalition partner organizations.

In the final analysis, even attempts to weaken the bill or grandfather in potentially damaging construction projects were struck down. And the two bills passed unanimously.

Building Strength Together

In the last year, Anne Arundel County, Howard County and Baltimore City have all upgraded their local forest protections. However, Frederick County has the strongest forest protection laws in the state. In an incredibly encouraging development, other Maryland counties are now looking at Frederick County’s legislation for inspiration. Montgomery County and Charles County both have hearings this fall to amend their forest conservation laws, and Baltimore City and Anne Arundel County are looking to Frederick to see if they can upgrade their policies even further based on Frederick’s model.

Frederick County will now gain forests instead of losing them.

Thanks to the work of so many volunteers and organizations, everyone who helps plant a tree in Frederick County can be confident they are growing a new and greener Frederick. And as Frederick County’s forests expand, we will enjoy the solace they provide and cleaner water and air for all.

Ben Alexandro is the Water Program Director at Maryland League of Conservation Voters and the Choose Clean Water Coalition’s Maryland State Lead

By |2020-12-15T13:17:56-05:00December 15th, 2020|Categories: Blog, Clean Water and the Bay|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

Voting by Mail in the Old Line State

By Kristen Harbeson, Political Director of Maryland LCV

The June Primary has come and gone but the 2020 Election has barely hit its stride. Even as we are facing the rise and fall and rise again of COVID-19 infections, Marylanders are preparing to go to the polls in November.

To pass strong environmental legislation, we must have the right elected officials in office. Nothing is more important to that goal than a robust election where voters’—all voters’— voices are heard and champions are elected that reflect their  conservation values over the interests of those who would pave over forests and eliminate environmental protections. 

To advocate for a fair, free, and safe election, Maryland League of Conservation Voters is part of a large and diverse coalition called “Everyone Votes Maryland.” We hope you will engage in our campaign — including spreading the word — to ensure its success. 

Looking forward through this public health crisis to a critical national election, it is essential that every registered voter make a plan on how they will have their vote heard.

Check your registration

All registered Maryland voters will be sent mail-in ballot applications in advance of the November 3rd election.  Since ballot and ballot applications will not be forwarded,  it’s important that everyone make sure that their registration is up to date. 

  1. Are you registered to vote in Maryland?
  2. Have you moved since the last election?

Check your status here: https://voterservices.elections.maryland.gov/VoterSearch

Apply for an absentee ballot:

You don’t have to wait for your absentee ballot application to arrive in the mail.

Voting by mail is the best and safest way to make your voice heard. Not only is it secure, but it provides a guaranteed paper record of every vote in the case of a recount. In addition, it allows voters time to sit with their ballots and do research, which is especially important for voters with lower literacy levels, or whose first language is not English.

Visit: https://voterservices.elections.maryland.gov/OnlineVoterRegistration/InstructionsStep1

  •         To receive a ballot in the mail, you must request a ballot by no later than Tuesday, October 27.
  •         Ballots can also be e-mailed if they are requested on or before Thursday, October 30.
  •         You will need to know:
  1. Your voter type (citizenship, military affiliation, etc.)
  2. Your name
  3. Your date of birth
  4. Your State ID number and issue date. This could be a drivers license or MVA-issued ID.
  5. Note that if you don’t already have one, the website will send you to a Maryland Voter Registration Application, which will require an original signature and can not be e-mailed or faxed.
  6. Your address
  7. Your political party (if any)
  8. A contact phone number and e-mail address

You will be asked how you would like to receive your ballot, and be required to swear or affirm that your information is correct: That you are a US Citizen, a Maryland resident, at least 16 years old, and you do not have a current conviction that prevents you from being eligible to vote.

  •   Note: previously convicted felons who have been released on parole or who have completed their time served are eligible to vote by Maryland state law.

Voting by Mail

Once you receive your ballot, you will be able to review the candidates for office and cast your vote safely and securely.

  •         Your ballot must be postmarked on or before November 3, 2020
  •         For ballots sent by mail, postage will be pre-paid. No additional postage will be required.
  •         For ballots received by e-mail, voters will be required to print and mail their ballots with the appropriate postage (2 stamps)
  •         Ballots should be signed and filled out with a black pen
  •         Ballots MUST be signed to be considered valid.

Voting in Person

Some people prefer to vote in person, or have disabilities which make it essential to have in-person voting options. Not to worry!  There will be opportunities for you to visit a voting center.

  •         Each jurisdiction will have voting centers open for early voting from October 22 – October 29th
  •         In-person voting options will also be available on November 3rd.
  •         Voting centers will require voters to wear a mask in order to enter the facility, and social-distancing will be maintained.
  •         Ballot marking devices will be available for voters with disabilities
  •         Same-day registration will be available during early voting and on election day
  •         Voters registering on-site may be required to fill out provisional ballots.

Important Dates:

  • Absentee ballots will begin being mailed out on September 19th
  • Last day to pre-register to vote is October 13th– you will still be able to register in person on election day at your polling location
  • Early Voting for the General Election – Thursday, October 22, 2020 through Thursday, October 29, 2020 from 8 am until 8 pm.
  • Last day to request an absentee ballot is October 29th
  • November 3 General Election – Your absentee ballot must be postmarked by this day

A great how-to video on absentee ballot request from Speaker Adrienne Jones can be found here.

We need to stay vigilant and focused on ensuring every Marylander has the necessary tools and resources to vote. Stay tuned to see updates from us and our partners in Everyone Votes Maryland about the November elections. With so much at stake, we need all Marylanders to exercise their right to vote.  It is one of the best actions you can take to protect and restore Maryland’s land, air, water and communities.

U.S. Congress Passes Great American Outdoors Act

IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 22, 2020
Contact: Ben Alexandro, balexandro@mdlcv.org, 845-596-9634

U.S. Congress Passes Great American Outdoors Act

Landmark bill will protect open spaces in Maryland and throughout the United States

Washington, D.C. – By a bipartisan vote of 310-107, the U.S. House of Representatives today passed the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA), a landmark environmental bill that will restore parks and public lands in Maryland and across the country and fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Act (LWCF). The bill, which passed the Senate on June 17, now heads to the White House for President Trump’s signature.

“The passage of the Great American Outdoors Act is a significant victory for Maryland,” said Maryland League of Conservation Voters Executive Director, Kim Coble. “The bill guarantees that Marylanders will have access to clean, safe, and healthy parks for years to come.”

The Great American Outdoors Act will allow the National Park Service to restore resources that are deteriorating due to age and inconsistent funding. In Maryland alone, park sites that welcome nearly 7 million visitors and support more than 2,900 jobs each year require $244 million in repairs. The now-permanent LWCF funding is significant for Maryland: The state has received $231.8 million in LWCF funding over the past five decades, protecting places such as the Assateague Island National Seashore, Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Monocacy National Battlefield and the C&O Canal National Historic Park. Maryland also uses LWCF to leverage additional funds, such as state Program Open Space money that funds hundreds of facilities and creates access to local and state parks.

Coble lauded the role of Majority Leader Steny Hoyer in shepherding the Great American Outdoors Act through Congress. “For decades, Marylanders have always known that Steny Hoyer would go to the mat for Maryland’s special places,” said Coble. “His tremendous leadership in moving the Great American Outdoors Act through Congress will provide lasting benefits to Marylanders and all Americans.”

The Maryland League of Conservation and its members weighed in heavily in support of the Great American Outdoors Act. Early in July, Maryland LCV organized 36 Maryland conservation groups to urge Rep. Hoyer’s continued leadership, and Maryland LCV reached hundreds of thousands of Marylanders through drive-time radio ads and extensive on-line advocacy in both English and Spanish. 

Here are quotes from other Maryland organizations that joined with us in advocating for the Great American Outdoors Act:

“Our parks are inundated with people — a great problem to have, but our parks need help so they can remain treasures that connect people to nature while preserving delicate ecosystems. The Great American Outdoors Act is that help,” said Emily Ranson, Clean Water Action, Maryland Director.

“The Alice Ferguson Foundation applauds Majority Leader Hoyer’s continuous leadership of environmental causes both locally and nationally. The Great American Outdoors Act will continue to ensure our national parks thrive for future generations,” said Theresa Cullen, Executive Director, Alice Ferguson Foundation.

“GAOA funding will support our Urban parks and recreational spaces that are used by millions of people close to home,” said  Jim Foster, President, Anacostia Watershed Society.

“This passage of the Great American Outdoors Act ensures that our irreplaceable Maryland parks and public lands will continue to be protected, and that all Marylanders will have access to nature. By continuing to provide funds for our parks we help cool our communities with green spaces as climate change heats up, and create opportunities to expand outdoor education programming,” said Denisse Guitarra, MD Conservation Advocate at Audubon Naturalist Society.

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 Maryland LCV is known for educating lawmakers and holding them accountable for their leadership and votes on key environmental issues. Their annual scorecard, along with other reports, help inform voters about their legislators’ records.

Maryland League of Conservation Voters
30 West Street, Suite C
Annapolis, MD 21401
www.mdlcv.org

Marylanders Support the Great American Outdoors Act

IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 17, 2020
Contact: Ben Alexandro, balexandro@mdlcv.org , 845-596-9634

Marylanders Support the Great American Outdoors Act

Landmark bill will protect open spaces in Maryland and throughout the United States

Annapolis, MD – Marylanders have rallied in great numbers in support of the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA), a landmark federal environmental bill that they hope will soon pass through the U.S. House of Representatives. Thirty-six conservation groups representing tens of thousands of members in Maryland organized by the Maryland League of Conservation Voters recently wrote to Majority Leader Steny Hoyer in support of the bill and his leadership.

“Steny Hoyer has been a champion for America’s parks for decades, and the importance of his work to protect our most special places has never been more evident than it is now,” said Kim Coble, Executive Director of the Maryland League of Conservation Voters. “Over the past few months, we’ve been reminded just how essential our parks and open space are to our physical and mental health. We greatly appreciate the tremendous leadership shown by Leader Hoyer as he has moved the Great American Outdoors Act through Congress.”  

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) — which would be permanently funded through the Great American Outdoor Act — has played a crucial role in protecting Maryland’s natural treasures over the past five decades, including such places as the Assateague Island National Seashore, Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Monocacy National Battlefield and the C&O Canal National Historic Park. Maryland has also used the LWCF to leverage even more Program Open Space money to fund hundreds of facilities and open up access at local and state parks. 

“The Great American Outdoors Act also addresses the incredibly important problem of the National Park Service maintenance backlog,” adds Coble. “Even before the economic slowdown caused by coronavirus, these resources were facing unprecedented pressures and threats.” Coble points out that in Maryland alone, national parks currently have a $244,457,125 backlog.

In addition to organizing 36 Maryland conservation groups to thank Leader Hoyer and urge his continued leadership, Maryland LCV has reached hundreds of thousands of Marylanders through drive-time radio ads and extensive on-line advocacy in both English and Spanish. The on-line ads reached thousands in support of the bill and generated hundreds of petition-signers.

“Our members and Marylanders throughout the state clearly consider this bill to be a top priority,” said Water Program Director Ben Alexandro, who has managed the GAOA legislative effort for Maryland LCV. “They know that great parks and open green spaces make stronger, healthier communities. And they appreciate Leader Hoyer’s leadership in moving this bill through Congress.”

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Maryland LCV is known for educating lawmakers and holding them accountable for their leadership and votes on key environmental issues. Their annual scorecard, along with other reports, help inform voters about their legislators’ records.

Maryland League of Conservation Voters
30 West Street, Suite C
Annapolis, MD 21401
www.mdlcv.org

By |2020-07-17T12:28:03-04:00July 17th, 2020|Categories: Clean Water and the Bay, Press|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

Keeping Parks Great and Green

By Kelly Peaks, 2020 Summer InternIntern Kelly out in nature

As a child, I remember always looking forward to playing in my local park, Louise F Cosca Park, after school. I loved the tire swing, the monkey bars, and, as far as my childhood brain could comprehend, the “life-size” pirate ship. I cherish those afternoons making friends with children in my community as we ran along the pond. Or the many church picnics that were held in the park’s recreational spaces. 

Parks have always been an important part of my life and have had a hand in shaping who I am today. These community parks that I frequented, Louise F Cosca, Watkins Regional Park, Henson Creek Park, and many more were partially funded by grants from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The upcoming House vote on Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) will strengthen park protections and ensure that national parks, as well as local parks, are able to be properly maintained and funded.

Parks have held a special place in my heart because they housed so many life events. One of those celebrations was the annual church picnics my family and I attended. The church picnics were a great way to bond with other parishioners outside of the church. My favorite activity was the nature walk where we would follow one of the many park trails. If we were fortunate enough to be in Watkins park, we would be able to ride the mini train that circled the property. Many of the families that attended the picnic lived in DC, so they didn’t readily have access to larger parks. The picnics were a wonderful way to provide the children with access to nature and teach them to respect and appreciate nature as an important part of our faith.

As a 24-year-old adult, I’ve outgrown the playground, but I’ve come to appreciate the other facets that parks have to offer. Access to nature and wildlife, beautiful views, and trails are only some of my favorite park activities. Since this pandemic has forced many of us to work from home, parks have become a place of solace. Parks have become such a popular destination because they are some of the only places we can enjoy while still being able to safely socially distance. 

The past few weeks my family has spent quite a few afternoons walking along the path in Henson Creek Park. It has felt amazing to have a way to safely get out of the house and to find some sense of normalcy. There were families there teaching their kids to ride a bike, observing the local wildlife, and simply bonding with nature. 

Personally, sitting inside all day, every day, can take a toll on my mental health. The times I’m able to take a break and take a walk have helped clear my head, boost my mood, and aid with efficiency. If I didn’t have access to parks, I think that self-quarantining would be more difficult for me. I am so thankful to have access to many parks in my district and hope that they remain open and cared for so that everyone can have access to nature for the duration of this quarantine.

The LWCF is a program that was created by Congress in 1964 to protect the nation’s natural and culturally significant areas and the resources around them, as well as provide recreational areas for citizens to enjoy. The program includes funds for National parks and refuges but also provides grants for states and localities that go towards smaller, community parks.

Every year, revenue from offshore oil and gas is supposed to go towards this fund, but a large portion of this money has been diverted from parks. Because of this, there is a backlog of maintenance needs totaling almost $30 billion, over $244 million in Maryland alone. The diversion of funds is jeopardizing park infrastructure, which endangers visitors’ health, safety, and enjoyment of parks. 

This is where the GAOA comes in to address these challenges by providing a more dedicated source of funding. It promises to end the diversion of funds and ensures that they are spent on their intended purpose: parks. It will also establish the National Parks and Public Lands Legacy Fund which will direct money towards park repairs. Just last month, U.S. Senate passed the Great American Outdoors Act. This is partially due to strong support from our great Maryland Senators as well as House Majority Leader, Steny Hoyer. 

Rep. Hoyer has announced that at the end of this month this legislation will be voted on in the House, and with its strong bipartisan support, he is optimistic that it will pass and will officially be signed into law. I am grateful to Rep. Hoyer as well as our state senators for their leadership and commitment to bring it to the floor and I hope that it will pass. 

I’ve noticed maintenance issues over the past few years in these smaller parks. It has been little things like broken swings, fallen trees, and unkept trails. With the pandemic and the backlog of maintenance issues, these small things can turn into larger problems that prevent people from enjoying their local parks. In times like these, where nature is one of the only safe places that we can escape to, we need legislation like the Great American Outdoors Act to improve our parks and provide us with spaces to clear our minds, bond with family, and build lasting memories.

I hope you join me in adding your name to our petition to get this legislation passed. 

By |2020-07-13T13:47:31-04:00July 13th, 2020|Categories: Blog, Clean Water and the Bay|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

Great news! The Great American Outdoors Act Passes out of Congress

By a bipartisan vote of 310-107, the U.S. House of Representatives today passed the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA), a landmark environmental bill that will restore parks and public lands in Maryland and across the country and fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Act (LWCF). The bill, which passed the Senate on June 17, now heads to the White House for President Trump’s signature.

“The passage of the Great American Outdoors Act is a significant victory for Maryland,” said Maryland League of Conservation Voters Executive Director, Kim Coble. “The bill guarantees that Marylanders will have access to clean, safe, and healthy parks for years to come.”

Check out our press release here.

Maryland members of Congress and how they voted:

Senator Ben Cardin: Voted Yes

Senator Chris Van Hollen: Voted Yes

District 1 Representative Andrew Harris: Voted No

District 2 Representative Dutch Ruppersberger: Voted Yes

District 3 Representative John Sarbanes: Voted Yes

District 4 Representative Anthony Brown: Voted Yes

District 5 Representative Steny Hoyer: Voted Yes

District 6 Representative David Trone: Voted Yes

District 7 Representative Kweisi Mfume: Voted Yes

District 8 Representative Jamie Raskin: Voted Yes

Sign our Thank you card to Majority Leader Hoyer and other members of congress who voted for the Great American Outdoors Act and permanently funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) has supported or enhanced the protection of many of the most special parks and other natural areas across the state.

Looking up through the trees into a clear sunny sky

 The Fund was permanently authorized in 2019, but that does not guarantee that the $900 million put into the LWCF account every year will be spent on conservation. Over the 55 years of the program, billions of dollars have been siphoned from the fund for other non-conservation purposes. In fact, this past fiscal year 2020, only $495 million was appropriated to LWCF—far short of full funding, and yet the highest amount in 15 years.Maryland is filled with hidden treasures of natural beauty. A true “America in miniature,” our wonderful state has towering tree-covered mountains in the west, and long stretches of sand-covered beaches on our Eastern Shore, and is home to the bountiful Chesapeake Bay.

That means the money that should have gone to increasing recreation opportunity for all, protecting our parks from being sold off to the highest bidder, providing close-to-home playgrounds and ballfields to support healthy kids and families, safeguarding our drinking water supplies, and keeping working forests in sustainable operation instead of subdivided and developed — went somewhere else. 

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) has provided funding to help protect some of Maryland’s most special places and ensure recreational access for hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities. 

Maryland has received approximately $231.8 million in LWCF funding over the past five decades, protecting places such as the Assateague Island National Seashore, Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Monocacy National Battlefield and the C&O Canal National Historic Park.

Forest Legacy Program (FLP) grants are also funded under LWCF, to help protect working forests. The FLP cost-share funding supports timber sector jobs and sustainable forest operations while enhancing wildlife habitat, water quality and recreation. 

For example, the FLP contributed to places such as the Broad Creek in Dublin and the Coastal Bay project in Snow Hill. FLP has directly protected 2,014 acres in Maryland. The program assists states and private forest owners to maintain working forest lands through matching grants for permanent conservation easement and fee acquisitions, and has leveraged approximately $4.6 million in federal funds to invest in Maryland’s forests. These forests enhance air and water quality and provide wildlife habitat and recreational access.

LWCF state assistance grants have further supported hundreds of projects across Maryland’s state and local parks including Conquest Waterfront Preserve in Queen Anne’s County and Seneca State Park in Montgomery County.

Economic Benefits

Active outdoor recreation is an important part of the Maryland economy. The Outdoor Industry Association has found that active outdoor recreation generates $14 billion in consumer spending in Maryland; provides 109,000 jobs that generate $4.4 billion in wages and salaries; and produces nearly $951 million annually in state and local tax revenue. Further, the U.S. Census reports that each year over 2.7 million people hunt, fish, or enjoy wildlife-watching in Maryland, contributing over $1.6 billion in wildlife recreation spending to the state economy.

Funding in Maryland

Federal Total $ 134,400,000
Forest Legacy Program $ 4,600,000
American Battlefield Protection Program $ 3,000,000
Habitat Conservation (Sec. 6) $ 3,500,000
State Program Total State Grants $ 85,300,000
Total $ 231,800,000

Resources:

Factsheet of Maryland LWCF

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