In 1971, a group of concerned citizens, representing business, agriculture, conservation, academia, and government began gathering to discuss the declining “state of the Bay” and a lack of political commitment to address it. They formed a coalition called “The Citizens Program for the Chesapeake Bay” and brought regional leaders together to discuss a coordinated approach to the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers.
In 1976, the Citizens Program became the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay and its voluntary collaborative consensus-based approach became the model for the regional Chesapeake Bay Program (CBP) Partnership. Soon after it’s founding, the Alliance was awarded an EPA grant to coordinate citizen and community involvement for the CBP.
The Alliance came under the leadership of Frances Flanigan, who moved the Alliance’s base of operations from Hampton, Virginia to Baltimore, Maryland, and established field offices in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and Richmond, Virginia. Some of the Alliance’s staff continue to be housed in the U.S. EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program Office in Annapolis to directly support CBP initiatives.
Over the next 30+ years, the Alliance would help to build consensus, broker agreements, policies on a diversity of watershed issues, while developing programs that could deliver restoration results. Through pioneering work such as the Bay Journal, Businesses and Builders for the Bay, Volunteer Water Monitoring, green stormwater practices like rain gardens and Bayscapes, watershed planning, stream and riparian buffer restoration, forest conservation, and a myriad of other innovative efforts, the Alliance continues to make significant contributions to restoration progress.
Of note, the Alliance has been instrumental in:
- Establishing multi-jurisdictional goals for the Chesapeake Bay Program
- Involving new stakeholders in restoration efforts
- Building innovative partnerships
- Expanding awareness and action “upstream” of the Bay itself
- Empowering locally-led efforts through networking and training
- Getting 100’s of thousands of people involved as volunteers
The Alliance remains dedicated to restoring the Chesapeake Bay’s rivers and streams through partnerships, collaboration, and individual and community stewardship. While the Bay is improving, the challenges to protect, restore, and sustain it are more challenging than ever and today, the Alliance and its mission are more relevant than ever. Our reputation as an honest broker and neutral voice; a source of accurate, unbiased information makes us unique and clearly distinguishes us from other regional environmental organizations. With the strength and support of our members, Board, and staff, the Alliance will continue to be a strong regional leader for decades to come.
For more detail, see this abridged history of the Alliance and the Chesapeake Bay Restoration effort.