Chesapeake Bay Foundation begins fund-raising campaign Half $44 million goal has already been pledged

July 10, 1998|By Ernest F. Imhoff | Ernest F. Imhoff,SUN STAFF

With half its goal of $44 million pledged, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation has announced its most ambitious capital campaign, designed to help revive life in the bay "to historic levels of health and productivity."

The drive, the Covenant to Save Chesapeake Bay, aims to produce funds mostly for "projects that focus on restoring habitat, reducing toxic pollution and increasing fisheries," said Michael Shultz, vice president for public affairs.

The goal is one of the largest capital amounts, if not the largest, set by any regional environmental group in the country, Shultz said.

The campaign will set aside $5.5 million to consolidate its operation in a building south of Annapolis, called Bay Central Facility. The foundation will build a headquarters and conference center on 33 acres that used to be the site of the Bay Ridge Inn. The 31-year-old agency now operates from four buildings in Annapolis, two owned and two leased.

The drive raised $22 million privately from trustees and foundations before going public for the other $22 million. The 28 trustees contributed $14 million.

The campaign will run until Dec. 31, 2000. The foundation's first and only other capital campaign raised $5 million in 1983 to renovate a firehouse on East Street in Annapolis for central offices.

The drive is the foundation's effort "to dramatically expand work that is already starting to show success throughout the watershed," said William C. Baker, foundation president.

Several projects funded by the drive are to be completed by 2005.

The foundation will spend $18.7 million to rejuvenate key habitats such as wetlands and bay grasses and species such as oyster and shad.

In partnership with Ducks Unlimited, "Our goals are to see a bay with 1,500 more miles of forested buffers, 125,000 more acres of wetlands, and 160,000 more acres of underwater grasses by 2005," Baker said.

Forests act as buffers, or biological filters, preventing unhealthy amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus from entering the bay.

As part of the $18.7 million proposal, the agency wants to increase oyster population tenfold, reopen 1,500 miles of rivers to migratory fish and promote water quality to allow fish to spawn in the numbers they did in the 1960s.

The group also will devote $17.3 million to increased environmental education activities.

The foundation, with an annual budget of $10 million, has 83,000 members and 150 employees. Half work in Annapolis; the others in Norfolk and Richmond, Va., in Harrisburg, Pa., and in Delaware.

Pub Date: 7/10/98

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