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Chesapeake Bay Funding, Cut By Trump, Restored By Congress

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — President Donald Trump’s budget cut major federal funding to restore the Chesapeake Bay.

Congress had other ideas. Alex DeMetrick reports, a budget compromise has put all the money back.

You would have to get below the surface of the Chesapeake Bay to see the improvements, including the highest female blue crab population in decades, oysters planted in sanctuaries reproducing on their own and maybe developing resistance to diseases, underwater grasses spreading.

That last one is a “good indicator that pollution levels are going down,” according to Alison Prost, of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. “Grasses need clean water to flourish.”

So when President Trump cut $73 million from bay restoration, Senator Ben Cardin said “we’re going to fight to do everything we can to make sure that those funds are maintained.”

And in a compromise on the spending budget, Congress restored the $73 million, which will keep the EPA’s Chesapeake Bay program running.

“We’re very happy to see the funds put back into the budget,” says Kim Coble, of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. “They’re really critical to the bay and protecting it.”

Funding efforts by six bay states help restore habitat that slows pollution, by creating natural buffers between land and water.

It also monitors 150 rivers and streams flowing into the bay, that can carry the nutrients that feed algae blooms, creating dead zones.

“The dead zone, the summer dead zone, is actually diminishing over time,” according to Dr. Donald Boesch of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.

Unlike a lot of federal projects, helping the bay crossed party lines.

“We’ve got Republicans and Democratic congressional leaders voting to put the money back and supporting restoration of the bay,” Coble says.

Funding for the bay remains in place until September, when the fiscal year expires and a new budget must be hammered out.

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