In a letter to [5th District Virginia Rep.] Tom Garrett, I asked him whether he enjoys catching bluefish or flounder . . . whether he had ever spent time on and around the Chesapeake Bay — clamming or chicken-necking for crabs. I haven’t heard back from him, but I hope that the answer to at least one of these questions is yes.
That might give me hope that he recognizes the Chesapeake Bay as a jewel of tremendous value for Virginians.
Mr. Garrett repeatedly says that he is for the environment and for jobs. Good. He can throw his support behind the complete funding for the EPA and its role in the Chesapeake Bay Clean-up.
The money in the EPA budget for the Chesapeake Bay Program is disbursed among federal, state and local agencies and academic institutions, to foster programs that benefit the Bay. And since some of the rivers that feed the bay begin all the way back over here in the fifth district, clean-up projects here are included in the range of the efforts. Think renewed trout streams.
This ongoing project protects both the environment and jobs. Although in the past the Bay has been degraded by sewage, sedimentation, and polluted run-off, the clean-up process (begun in 1983 under President Reagan) has begun to restore the tremendous fertility of the Bay waters. Fish, oysters and crabs are on the rebound.
This means jobs. Jobs for fishermen and jobs in the tourism business. Jobs building or renovating sewerage plants and storm water mitigation systems — just a few of the many efforts to protect and improve the waters of the Bay.
The numbers involved are considerable. The fishing industry brings in billions of dollars and gives employment to tens of thousands. Recreational usages bring in added hundreds of millions. Anyone who has ever visited Assateague Island during migration season will have been struck by the huge numbers of birdwatchers that it attracts to enjoy Virginia hospitality.
So please, Mr. Garrett, fight for our Bay and join the other Virginia delegates who have pledged to keep the funding for the Chesapeake Bay Program in the budget for the benefit of all Virginians.