Today, the EPA released more details on the New Federal Strategy for restoring and protecting the fragile Chesepeake Bay watershed. See prior post on the settlement of lawsuit that helped to bring about this approach. Excerpts, focusing on the agricultural components of the strategy are as follows:
To restore clean water, EPA will implement the Chesapeake total maximum daily load (a pollution diet for the Chesapeake Bay and local waterways), expand regulation of urban and suburban stormwater and concentrated animal feeding operations and increase enforcement activities and funding for state regulatory programs.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will provide farmers and forest owners throughout the bay watershed with the resources to prevent soil erosion and keep nitrogen and phosphorous out of local waterways. USDA will target federal funding to the places where it will have the greatest water quality impact and ensure that agricultural producers’ conservation efforts are accurately reported. USDA will also lead a federal initiative to develop a watershed-wide environmental services market that would allow producers to generate tradable water quality credits in return for installing effective conservation practices.
“A thriving, sustainable agricultural sector is critical to restoration of the Chesapeake Bay,” said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. “We will help the bay watershed’s farmers and forest owners put new conservation practices on 4 million acres of agricultural lands so that agriculture can build on the improvements in nutrient and sediment reductions that we have seen over the last 2 years.”
Conserving 2 million acres of natural areas, forests and farmland preserves the environmental, recreational, cultural and economic benefits these lands provide. To protect priority lands, the Department of the Interior will launch a collaborative Chesapeake Treasured Landscape Initiative and expand land conservation by coordinating federal funding and providing community assistance. Interior will also develop a plan for increasing public access to the bay and its rivers.