The Chesapeake watershed supports the health of more than 50 national parks, and we can't afford to reverse important gains to water quality and habitat restoration

Since 1983, the Chesapeake Bay Program has coordinated restoration efforts in the 64,000-square-mile watershed in partnership with the seven jurisdictions it encompasses: Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, New York, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. The funding for this coordinated regional partnership could be drastically cut by Congress — a move that could reverse years of progress for the region’s more than 50 national parks.

Our national parks within the Chesapeake watershed commemorate some of the most iconic times in American history and include sites from Fort McHenry to Gettysburg National Battlefield to Colonial National Historical Park. Yet, the parks in this region are only as healthy as the rivers and streams that flow through and around them. Efforts to improve the water quality in the bay ensure that visitors to the parks can enjoy their natural surroundings as well as their historic and cultural features.

The Trump administration wants to cut the Chesapeake Bay Program funding by 90 percent in the fiscal year 2019 federal budget. These drastic cuts would have a devastating impact on the restoration progress that has been made over the last three decades.

About 60 percent of the funding for the Chesapeake Bay Program is funneled to states, local governments, nonprofit organizations and academic institutions through grant programs. Thanks to these funds, Chesapeake restoration efforts are showing successes that lead to healthier streams and rivers that flow in and around our national parks.

At this critical point in Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts, we cannot reverse the progress that has been made and ignore all the work that still needs to be done.

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