U.S. Senators Barbara A. Mikulski and Ben Cardin (both D-Md.) today announced the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has awarded more than $4 million in federal grants to two habitat restoration projects in Maryland. American Rivers received $3.83 million dollars to remove Bloede Dam, and for an engineering design to remove the Daniels Dam on the Patapsco River. Restore America's Estuaries, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Oyster Recovery Partnership received $840,000 to plant oyster beds in Harris Creek, Maryland.
"The Chesapeake Bay is part of who we are as Marylanders -- it is part of our heritage and part of our culture -- and it's our greatest natural resource," said Senator Mikulski, Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee which funds NOAA. "We have a responsibility to provide the tools and resources our watershed communities need, like uncorking the historic Patapsco River and planting oyster beds in Harris Creek will help the Bay and watershed areas. I will continue to fight to keep the Bay and Eastern Shore communities priorities in the federal checkbook."
"Oysters are a keystone species of the Chesapeake Bay, where they have long played a critical economic and ecological role. A century ago, over 10 million bushels of oysters were harvested each year from the Bay. Today, the oyster population is a tiny fraction of what it once was. Without the natural filtration and fish habitat provided by oyster reefs, the health of the Bay is at risk. That is why the grants being announced today are so important," said Senator Cardin, Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Water and Wildlife Subcommittee. "It is critical that we continue to take an active role in preserving and nurturing the entire Bay habitat."
American Rivers was awarded $3.83 million to remove the Bloede Dam, and for engineering design to remove the Daniels Dam on Maryland's Patapsco River. Senator Mikulski worked to put $167 million in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for marine and coastal restoration projects, including the removal of the Simkins and Union Dams in 2010 along to Patapsco River. Both of these are part of an effort to restore more than 65 miles of spawning habitat for blueback herring, alewife and American shad, and more than 183 miles for American eel, ensuring sustainable populations of these target species.
NOAA also awarded $840,000 to plant nearly 67 acres of oysters will be planted in the first year of this award, creating habitat for black sea bass and other fish. Each year, Senator Mikulski fights to protect the way of life and livelihoods that depend on the Chesapeake Bay's oyster population by securing funding and partnering with NOAA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the construction of new oyster reefs and oyster reseeding efforts.