Home Features As cuts to Chesapeake Bay Program loom, local activists raise awareness

As cuts to Chesapeake Bay Program loom, local activists raise awareness

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“20 years ago, nothing was done, but now I see more people taking action and places are becoming more beautiful,” customer Alyssa Debutts said while speaking to Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay member Lucy Heller

By Riin Aljas

At the beginning of March, President Donald Trump announced his budget plan for fiscal year 2020, where Chesapeake Bay Program’s funding would be cut from $73 million a year to $7.3 million, contending that more funding should be provided locally. The Chesapeake Bay Program is an initiative which combines efforts to protect environment in the Bay area. 

Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen raised the issue while EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler testified in front of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior April 3. Van Hollen pointed out that while the administration reversed budget reductions for the Great Lakes environmental cleanup and the Special Olympics and Wheeler has said previously that he’s committed to the Chesapeake Bay Program, the question of the bay remains unresolved. Wheeler agreed that he thought it’s a good program but didn’t comment any further.

At the same time, another discussion about the Chesapeake Bay happened, as Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay held an event to raise awareness about keeping the bay clean. In April they put up tables in four MOM’s Organic stores to get people interested in the issue, one of them in Rockville, where Lucy Heller, Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay member informed customers about volunteer events:

“We’re trying to explain that even when people don’t see the bay daily, their trash still ends up in the water. So, we’re doing a lot of pick up trash events. If people have the physical experience of picking up their trash, then it might get to their head to be more conscious about trash in the future.”

As people shopped for groceries, some stopped by the table for a whole 15 minutes. When asked about their own relationship with the bay, most had a personal experience.

“My mom lives by the water in Cambridge, and she sees the trash floating by every day,” said customer Alyssa Debutts, though she’s happy there are at least events and awareness about the issue. “Twenty years ago, nothing was done, but now I see more people taking action and places are becoming more beautiful,” she added.

In March, Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay held a similar event in Gaithersburg, where about 24 people signed up to get their newsletter and a lot of people showed interest in volunteering for cleaning up events.

Although in recent years there has been more of an effort to keep the bay clean, the use of plastic remains a problem, especially as getting food delivered has become so common and most dishes come served in plastic containers, Heller explained.

“We had a cleanup event and an eight-year-old girl looked at me and asked, ‘Why do we need so much plastic?’ I said, ‘We don’t really. And Go and tell all of your friends that.’ ”

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