During the first week of June, the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, as well as environmental organizations, communities, businesses, and local governments in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, celebrated Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week. The week was designated in 2016 by the Chesapeake Bay Commission for activities, educational programs, and events to celebrate our nation’s largest estuary – the Chesapeake Bay.

For us Annapolitans, the Chesapeake Bay is front and present in our everyday lives. But the majority of the people that live, work, and play in the Chesapeake region don’t make the connection between their backyards and the 100,000 tributaries that flow into the Bay. Every one of the 18 million residents in the Chesapeake watershed have an impact on the 64,000 square miles of streams, forests, and wetlands of the national treasure we all call home.

There are quite a few major metropolitan communities such as Washington, D.C., Richmond, Virginia, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and, of course, Annapolis, whose lands drain to the Chesapeake Bay. With the increasing pressure of an urbanizing landscape, it is critical that each of us take simple (and free!) steps to each reduce our impact on our local waterways.

Along with celebrating the Chesapeake during Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week, the Alliance hosted the first ever “Chesapeake Challenge” which encouraged people to pledge to take different actions each day of the week that would contribute to cleaner water and a healthier Chesapeake Bay watershed. The goal of the challenge was to bring awareness to people across the Chesapeake region about how their everyday actions, like recycling and using single use plastics, directly affect the health of their local stream. At the Alliance, we are strong believers in the idea that every person can do simple things to take action for better water quality, healthier forests, and an overall improved quality of life in the Chesapeake. The Challenge provided a platform for people to learn about the actions that they can take everyday, and provided the resources Chesapeake residents need to make those changes.

Each day, we encouraged people to pledge to take a different action.

  • Pledge to practice responsible lawn care!
  • Pledge to pick up after your pooch!
  • Pledge to make one easy switch in your office!
  • Pledge to learn more about my local recycling program!
  • Pledge to eat locally sourced seafood!
  • Pledge to cut back on my use of single use plastics!
  • Pledge to get outdoors and explore the wonders of the Chesapeake!
  • Pledge to continue the actions I committed to this week!

Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program

While the Chesapeake Challenge may be over (for now), we encourage you to take action every single day by making small changes in your life that support a cleaner and healthier Chesapeake Bay watershed. Whether you are going to pledge to eliminate using single use plastics, riding your bike to work a couple days a week, or responsibly managing your yard, the Alliance is here to help you find the right actions for you. You can visit our  “Take Action” section to learn about upcoming volunteer opportunities and to visit our do-it-yourself websites that will walk you through making some of these changes.