Bay Foundation awarded top presidential honor


The Chesapeake Bay Foundation, which has criticized the Bush administration's efforts to weaken wetlands regulations, was named yesterday by the White House to receive a presidential award for its efforts to protect the environment.

The state of Maryland and another local environmental group, Save Our Streams, also were cited by the White House among 13 finalists for the president's Environment and Conservation Challenge Awards. The awards were first given out a year ago.

The Annapolis-based foundation was one of nine winners nationally of the award, which is to be presented at the White House later this fall. The foundation was chosen for its environmental education program, in which more than 35,000 students, teachers and other adults learn about the bay each year by hiking along its shore, going out in boats and visiting the foundation's demonstration farm in Prince George's County.

William C. Baker, the foundation's president, said he had no comment on the timing of the announcement, which comes less than a week before the presidential election. The Bush administration, which has been criticized by environmentalists, has issued several long-delayed air pollution regulations this week and made several other environmental announcements.

"I'm not going to let anything diminish our excitement for it," Mr. Baker said of the award. "Our education program really deserves these accolades."

Maryland was honored for selling commemorative auto license tags to benefit the Chesapeake Bay. More than 400,000 plates have been sold in nearly two years, and the program has raised more than $4.25 million for bay education and restoration projects.

Save Our Streams, the other state group recognized by the White House, is a Glen Burnie-based environmental organization whose 7,000 volunteers work with government and business to monitor and protect creeks, streams and rivers in the Baltimore area.

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