BALTIMORE — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation announced 25 grants totaling $7.4 million on Monday for projects supporting wildlife habitat, climate resilience, community conservation partnerships, and equitable access to nature in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
The grants will advance the goals of the Chesapeake Watershed Investments in Landscape Defense (Chesapeake WILD) Program, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).
The awards will improve recreational access along more than 31 miles of river and trails, restore more than 32 riparian miles of forest habitat, improve passage along nearly 120 river miles for migratory fish species, and protect more than 4,700 acres of fish and wildlife habitat, including 2,000 acres of key wildlife corridors in high-elevation areas that will allow species to shift habitats in response to climate change, according to USFWS.
“This partner-driven program prioritizes projects that are led by communities and that respond to climate change,” said Service Director Martha Williams. “The work done through these funded projects helps ensure we achieve meaningful and lasting outcomes for all watershed residents now and in the future.”
“The Chesapeake WILD program adds critical new resources, agency support and technical assistance investments for habitat restoration and protection, public access and community engagement activities across the Chesapeake Bay watershed,” added Jeff Trandahl, executive director and chief executive officer of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF). “We look forward to working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and our many partners in the Chesapeake Bay watershed to continue building on the foundation’s long legacy of conservation and restoration efforts in the region.”
According to USFWS, the Chesapeake WILD program was established to support collaborative conservation in the watershed and provide grant funding for community-driven projects that align with five interrelated focal areas for sustaining the health of the watershed and its inhabitants into the future:
- Conserving and restoring imperiled fish and wildlife habitats
- Enhancing climate resilience and readiness
- Building community partnerships and conservation capacity, including in vulnerable communities
- Increasing equitable public access for recreation and human connections with nature.
- Improving water quality
USFWS noted it partners with NFWF to deliver the Chesapeake WILD grant program as part of its broader Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund — a portfolio of competitive grant programs helping to restore and protect the Chesapeake Bay watershed.