Anacostia River Executive Leadership Council Announcement
September 17, 2008
Thank you all very much.
For those of you that were on the Anacostia, I don’t know if you’re like me, I’ve probably been over the Anacostia millions of times, but now I can say I’ve been on the Anacostia and it’s really an enjoyable little trip.
I want to thank Jim Connelly with the Anacostia Watershed Society for our boat tour. We saw all sorts of wildlife – egrets, a couple of Great Blue Heron, a couple of osprey, a kingfisher, and a number of turtles. So the Anacostia River, despite what we’ve done to the land all around her, is still alive and kicking and calling us to the cause of her continued improvement.
It’s been a wonderful day we’ve had here in gorgeous Prince George’s County, especially the Port Towns, who got their genesis from this river. It’s been a highway of commerce to the whole world, and certainly was the thing that drew these communities to one another.
Leadership Council Announcement
In many cities, waterfronts became a defunct part of their past, and over the last 30 years people are realizing what Jim Rouse meant when he said that ‘water is magic.’ These rivers, while they might not be able to support shipping containers coming in from China, certainly deserve our respect and our appreciation, and they certainly deserve reincarnation as places of recreation and places where kids can get in touch with the deeper truths of their souls and find a little respite from what is too often very hard concrete, and too often violence in their neighborhoods. So this is wonderful greenway.
We’ve had a great day in our capital, declaring the Port Towns our capital city for today. We’re also rounding out our day here with a little announcement. Together with the District of Columbia, we created back in 2006 by Executive Order a Leadership Council of the Anacostia Watershed Restoration Partnership. It was created in writing, but it never, ever met, and it never made progress. So we decided that we should meet, and this thing should function, and we should map out some plans and have an agenda for the things that we can do.
Usually, when we meet at BayStat we look at a watershed that stretches all the way to upstate New York. With the Anacostia, it’s only about 170 square miles. If we can do it here, we can do it anywhere. Very soon we’ll have a partnership from our federal government as well. So I want to thank Mayor Fenty for his interest in this, and also his willingness to serve as the first Chair of the Leadership Council. He has representatives here with us and we’re going to do everything that we can to clean up the Anacostia.
Steady Progress for our Rivers and Watersheds
Working together, we’ve already made some progress. For some of you that weren’t on board the boat, our tour guide pointed out where some 70 acres of wetlands restoration had taken place. There once was an illegal dump that had refrigerators and tires and all sorts of things in it that were all taken out with the help of the Army Corp, and we went in and invested about $7 million to restore some 70 acres of those wetlands that serve as the kidneys that cleanse the waters as they filter from the runoff in the developments into this river.
So working together, we’re making some real progress. We created the Chesapeake Bay 2010 Trust Fund to finance restoration efforts. We’ve updated our critical areas legislation. We’re doing some good stuff on the Maryland Aquatic Reef Initiative, and we’re making record investments in cover crops in our State. We’ve tripled the amount that we’ve put into cover crops to help prevent agricultural runoff. We recently upgraded our regulations in terms of animal farms, we’ve passed some landmark Clean Cars legislation, and we’ve joined the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
We’re doing a number of good things and we can’t do any of these things fast enough. This region of ours, this Chesapeake crescent, is going to grow. The question is: can we grow in a green, smart, and sustainable way? We’re going to grow, and we’re probably way behind in terms of the investments we’ve made in our infrastructure, in order to grow in green, smart, and sustainable ways; but we can catch up, and this Council is an important part of that.