As CBF approaches our 50th anniversary, we are simultaneously encouraged, worried, and determined. Encouraged,
because Bay water quality and species
abundance are improving. Many scientists
believe the Bay has turned a corner and is
on the road to systemic recovery.
We worry, however, about complacency and
low expectations. The Bay and its rivers
could easily slip backwards. We are
determined to push even harder—to accelerate
our education, advocacy, restoration, and
litigation work. We must avoid what happened to Lake Erie, once declared saved
and now worse than ever.
When CBF began, Bay fin- and shellfish
were abundant and diverse. But water quality was already declining. Sewage treatment
was in its infancy and industrial discharges
were rampant. Agriculture was less intense
and therefore less polluting than today, but
the movement to more concentrated animal
operations was just beginning to generate more pollution. And farming practices
which required ever more chemical fertilizers and pesticides were advancing. There
was less development, meaning fewer hardened acres and less polluted runoff, but residential and commercial sprawl was starting
to take off, beginning the destruction of
natural filters, such as wetlands and forests.
Such was the backdrop for CBF’s birth and
our Save the Bay slogan. CBF founders were
ahead of their time as there was little pub-
lic, much less political, support for across-
the-board pollution reduction. Few people
foresaw the system collapse that was on
Fast forward to today. Science has given us
a thorough understanding of Bay processes,
the six watershed states and the District
of Columbia are working together, and a
Presidential Executive Order has established
mandatory pollution-reduction requirements.
The key to real success lies in focusing on
water quality in Pennsylvania. Currently,
about one-quarter of its rivers and streams
( 23,000 miles) are designated by the state
as impaired. CBF has twenty full-time staff
in Pennsylvania. We are clean-water advocates in the General Assembly, and promoters of state-of-the-art sewage treatment.
On the farm, we not only help landowners
establish proven, cost-effective practices
that reduce thousands of pounds of pollutants annually, but we also advance policies
to take those practices to scale.
We believe in working smarter: spending
available money more effectively by targeting agricultural cost-share dollars and federal and state efforts to the areas of greatest
need. While this simple innovation seems
obvious, it will require government to interrupt the status quo. If done well, tax payers
will save millions and water will again flow
cleanly in Pennsylvania and downstream
to the Bay.
Our vision for the next 50 years is a
Chesapeake Bay that serves as a model.
We can be a regional, non-partisan success
story. The Chesapeake Bay can once again
be the most productive estuary in the
world, teeming with abundant and diverse
fisheries while stimulating the economy
and serving as a source of great pride to all
Americans. It is within our reach, and we
plan to be here to see it!
Our Vision for
the Next 50 Years
CBF President Will Baker
Our vision for the next 50
years is a Chesapeake Bay
that serves as a model.