Communities help one another improve the bay

Governments share information in Peer Match

On the Water

Watersports in Anne Arundel County

April 06, 2005|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

A new program aims to match local governments so they draw expertise from one another about how best to protect the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers.

The Chesapeake Bay Program, a federal-state partnership that guides bay restoration efforts, recently launched the Peer Match program to share information among communities.

Christopher Conner, a spokesman for the program, said the idea was to get counties, cities and towns that have adopted bay-friendly programs to assist other communities.

About 100 communities are taking part in the program, including Annapolis.

More than 1,650 local governments are located in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, Conner said.

"What we do on the land has a lot of impact over what we see in the waters," he said, adding that responsibility for such decisions "tends to fall on governments."

Peer Match aims to empower "some of the local governments who have been involved in bay restoration" to assist other communities, he said.

Russell Pettyjohn, a Pennsylvania elected official who chairs the bay program's local government advisory committee, said Peer Match holds a lot of potential.

"Each local government in the Chesapeake Bay watershed can help take part in the restoration of this national treasure," he said in a recent statement. "When local governments wisely manage their lands, reduce storm-water runoff and create a stewardship ethic among residents, both the bay and the local community win."

In forging partnerships, local governments will identify "priority areas" in which assistance and expertise can be provided, program officials said.

A one-day mentoring session will focus on needs, as well as actions that local governments can take to improve the health of local waters.

The program will seek to match communities with similar populations and financial resources.

Mentor communities must complete a brief application at www.baylogin.org. For more information on the bay program, go to www.chesapeakebay.net.

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