ASSATEAGUE ISLAND – Maryland Senator Ben Cardin (D) spoke with students spending their summers as “Coastal Stewards” who are working to restore watersheds of the five coastal bays located between Ocean City and Assateague Island.
According to the Maryland Coastal Bays Program, the area between Ocean City and Assateague Island includes more than 189,000 acres of land, 71,000 acres of shoreline, and nearly 35,000 acres of wetlands. Living within this ecosystem is “a variety of wild life, including 360 different types of birds, as well as more than 108 rare, endangered and threatened species.”
“The Coastal Stewards program challenges young people to take responsibility for our environment and the complex world around them. Maryland is a coastal state but too many of our young people, especially from urban areas, have little connection to the water and the indivisible links between a healthy environment and healthy local economies,” said Cardin, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and chairman of the Senate Water and Wildlife Subcommittee.
The Bay Stewards is part of the Maryland Coast Bays Program of the National Estuary Program (NEP). Every year the Stewards employ 15 high school and college students as they aim to increase the young people’s interest in ecology and promote environmental and outdoor jobs.
“Federal investments in programs like the Maryland Coastal Bays Program and National Estuary Program elevate the ecological health Maryland’s natural resources, our local and regional economies, and the strength of our communities,” Cardin said. “They also improve the quality of education our students receive, along with the workplace opportunities that follow from it.”
According to Cardin, the NEP is a network of voluntary community-based programs that safeguards and conserves coastal ecosystems across the country. It was established under Section 320 of the 1987 Clean Water Act (CWA) Amendments as a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency place-based program to protect and restore the water quality and ecological integrity of estuaries of national significance. Cardin is a lead cosponsor of the Clean Estuaries Act, which reauthorizes the NEP. According to his press release, the bill is awaiting consideration by the full Senate.