CENTREVILLE, MD (September 27, 2005) – In a major step toward restoring the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr., today announced his Administration will join with public, private and environmental partners to launch the Corsica River Pilot Project. This innovative project will concentrate unprecedented resources and environmental programs toward restoring the Corsica River, a major tributary of the Chesapeake Bay.
“We are embarking upon an unprecedented environmental effort,” said Governor Ehrlich. “The Corsica River Pilot Project is the first of its kind in the Bay watershed and can provide a blueprint for the future restoration of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. This multi-faceted effort will demonstrate that with a focused approach, combined resources and a comprehensive strategy, we can potentially restore an entire river system. I want to thank the many local, federal, private, and environmental partners for sharing our commitment to make the Corsica healthy and vibrant once again.”
The long term goal of the Corsica River Pilot Project is to remove the Corsica from the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) List of Impaired Waters. The Corsica project will initially focus on reducing nutrient pollution and sediment runoff through a proven set of urban, suburban and agricultural best management practices, and restoring bay grass acreage and oyster habitat. The total cost of the project is expected to be $19.4 million over the next five years.
“This project is designed to remove the Corsica River from the EPA’s impaired waters list. It is a great start and must be followed immediately by strategies to achieve a similar level of restoration across the entire Bay and tributary rivers, which are also designated as impaired,” said Chesapeake Bay Foundation President William C. Baker. “We look forward to working with the State in the implementation of these plans.”
Work on the Corsica has already begun as 4 million oyster spat were planted on two oyster bars during the past week and 1 to 2 million were planted during today’s event by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Oyster Recovery Partnership. Efforts to restore bay grasses to the Corsica are also taking place as DNR researchers work to identify the best way to plant in the river and look toward a large scale planting within the next few months. Shoreline restoration is also underway. In addition, farmers in the Corsica watershed have signed up with the Maryland Agricultural Cost Share Program and plan to plant 2,200 acres of cover crops.
In order to determine the most appropriate site for this concerted state effort, a critical review of watersheds throughout Maryland was conducted by the Maryland Departments of Natural Resources, Environment, Agriculture and Planning. Factors considered during the selection process included the size of the watershed, potential to reduce nutrient loadings, the potential to restore bay grasses, oysters and streams, the presence of a Watershed Restoration Act Strategy, existing impairments listed in Category 5 of the Impaired Waters List and presence of willing local partners.
Participants and advisors in the Corsica River Pilot Project are: United States Congress, NOAA, the EPA, the Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, USDA, the U.S. Geological Survey, Queen Anne’s County, the ORP, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the Chesapeake Bay Trust, the Alliance for the Chesapeake, the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center, the Waterkeeper Alliance, the Conservation Fund, the Nature Conservancy, Maryland Environmental Service, the University of Maryland, and our State Departments of Agriculture, Environment, Natural Resources, Planning and Transportation. In addition, 20 local organizations, as well as every citizen in the Chesapeake Bay watershed will be playing a role in restoring this river system.