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MD - Opinion: Smart Growth Policies, Not Haphazard Approach Will Help Restore the Chesapeake

Over the past six years, Maryland has spent nearly $6 billion of taxpayer money on a wide range of Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts.

Despite these expensive initiatives, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation reports that “increasing development paired with lax forest protections are wiping out thousands of acres of forests, and with them, one of our most successful resources in the fight to improve the water quality of our rivers, streams, and Chesapeake Bay.”

Data from the Chesapeake Bay Program indicates that the bay watershed now loses forestland at the rate of 100 acres each day. From 2007 to 2012, Maryland cleared nearly 15,000 acres of farmland and 19,000 acres of forest for houses and commercial development.

Forests are crucial to maintaining the water quality of the bay and its tributaries. They also safeguard wildlife habitat, protect spawning grounds for fish and crabs, regulate climate, protect public health, provide recreation opportunities, and enhance the quality of life for the watershed’s residents.

The stated mission of the Maryland Department of the Environment is “to protect and restore the environment for the health and well-being of all Marylanders.” MDE’s own policy states that it is important to consider water quality when renewing or developing environmental permits and conducting land use planning.

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