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Kudos for rescuing Chesapeake Bay Program | READER COMMENTARY

In this May 14, 2020 file photo, a small boat chugs along the Honga River near the Chesapeake Bay as the sky lights up at sunrise, in Fishing Creek, Md. Researchers are predicting a slightly smaller-than-average oxygen dead zone in the Chesapeake Bay this year.
In this May 14, 2020 file photo, a small boat chugs along the Honga River near the Chesapeake Bay as the sky lights up at sunrise, in Fishing Creek, Md. Researchers are predicting a slightly smaller-than-average oxygen dead zone in the Chesapeake Bay this year. (Julio Cortez/AP)

I want to voice my support and congratulations to Rep. John Sarbanes, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and everyone who worked tirelessly to pass America’s Conservation Enhancement Act (“U.S. House passes up to $92 million in Chesapeake Bay cleanup funding; advocates expect Trump to sign," Oct. 1). The passage of this bipartisan legislation is exciting news for the future of the Chesapeake Bay watershed and is cause for celebration.

Growing up in Federal Hill, my life has been full of waterfront memories — passing runners on scenic morning jogs and watching the sunset from a bench at the park. However, I also have memories of sweltering afternoons where the lack of shade-providing trees (and the occasional smell of dead fish due to algae blooms) made the four-block walk to my best friend’s house almost unbearable.

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Over time, I learned that experiences like mine are all too common and not evenly distributed. Volunteering in Sandtown-Winchester, a historically under-resourced part of Baltimore, I learned how systematic forms of discrimination have contributed to higher asthma rates in red-lined communities. To me, restoring the Chesapeake Bay means ensuring every resident of Baltimore has the right to clean water and healthy air, to explore and enjoy green spaces, and to thrive within their neighborhoods. Restoring the environment restores us.

The ACE Act will help us do just that through the increased funding for the Chesapeake Bay Program, reauthorization of the Chesapeake Gateways and Watertrails Network, and the establishment of the Chesapeake WILD program. I especially want to thank Mr. Sarbanes for his leadership on the reauthorization of the Chesapeake Bay Program. He has worked for several years on this important issue and I am grateful for his commitment to the health of the nation’s largest estuary.

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Kaitlyn Leitherer, Baltimore

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