For those concerned about the plight of the Chesapeake Bay, it is a jolt to realize that the Chesapeake Bay Foundation is only 25 years old. It is hard to imagine how the bay could have survived the onslaught of pollution and degradation without its pioneering work.
No discussion of the bay's past, its present or its future can be conducted without heavy reliance on the foundation's research. Thousands have been introduced to the bay's wonders, its resources and its troubles by foundation lecturers or field trips. And it is a potent political force in the bay's defense, not just in Annapolis but also in Washington, Richmond and Harrisburg.
Founded in 1967, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation has grown from a two-room office to a staff of 100 -- not counting volunteers -- and a budget of $6 million. Significantly, it raises almost as much from individual members -- now 83,000 -- as it does from large grants.
The bay foundation, headed for many years by Arthur Sherwood and now by William C. Baker, is a key player in the revival of the Chesapeake. It has fought many battles, winning some and losing others. As for its future, the foundation says it best:
"Indeed, if there is a totally confident prediction we can make about our next 25 years it is that the challenge of restoring the bay will grow. We can no longer rely on the politics of pollution, mobilizing people largely through alarm over the degradation that exists. We need models, alternatives, creative solutions. We need to convince the public that these alternatives exist and are compatible with a high quality of life."