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Chesapeake Bay health improves to C+ for first time in over 20 years

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BALTIMORE, MD—The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES) released its annual report card this week with the overall Chesapeake Bay earning a grade of C+ (55%), the highest grade since 2002. The 2023/2024 Chesapeake Bay and Watershed Report Card is the 17th annual ecosystem report card.

Overall, the health of the Chesapeake Bay is improving slightly, with 11 of the 15 regions showing improved scores. The highest overall score is for the lower bay, which received a B+ grade. The upper bay dropped a point to a B- overall, but continues to improve from a B+ originally.

“This latest review of the watershed’s health shows that the partnership of the Chesapeake Bay Agreement is strong as we assess how to best move forward together beyond 2025,” said Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary, Josh Kurtz. “In Maryland, we’re using data and partnerships to improve coastal resilience, increase stream health, plant millions of new trees, and add more public access to the waterfront and natural areas. A cleaner Chesapeake Bay provides for a healthy society and a robust economy. We’re proud to work with partner states and the federal government to continue making progress toward a cleaner Bay for everyone.”

The report card continues to focus on ecological, societal, and economic indicators, with scores for all three remaining the same from the previous year. The ecological score is the highest it’s been since 2002, while the socioeconomic score dropped slightly to a C, and the economic score remained the same at a C.

The Chesapeake Bay restoration effort is a multi-stakeholder collaboration that includes federal, state, and local governments, as well as private sector businesses and organizations.

“There is still much to do, but this is a strong indicator of progress,” said EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator, Adam Ortiz. “After being off track, the partnership is now accelerating progress. In recent years, EPA has stepped up enforcement, accountability, and investments and it is paying off. These efforts have helped spur historic results among upstream and downstream states and all sectors, especially agriculture.”

The 2024 Chesapeake Bay and Watershed Report Card is available online at chesapeakebayreportcard.org.

This article was written with the assistance of AI and reviewed by a human editor.

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