By Joan Smedinghoff
Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week is a time for us to celebrate the culture, history and natural beauty of the Bay and its surrounding lands, rivers and streams. From upstate New York to southern Virginia, and West Virginia’s panhandle to eastern Delaware, we all share a piece of the nation’s largest estuary and our daily actions have a direct impact on the Bay.
From June 1-9, celebrate Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week at events spanning the region. Organizations may also submit their own events to be added to the calendar.
This year’s theme, “All Hands,” highlights the fact that it takes all of us to contribute to the restoration and protection of the Chesapeake Bay. Throughout the week, we will celebrate the actions that farmers, local governments, small businesses, non-profit organizations, utility companies, recreation enthusiasts, watermen, volunteers, military personnel and most importantly—you—are taking to protect the Bay and its waterways.
“Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week is an annual reminder for every one of us to re-commit to doing our part, every day, for a cleaner Chesapeake Bay,” says Kate Fritz, executive director for the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay. “We can all do something; pick-up trash in our neighborhood, clean up after our dogs, utilize reusable grocery bags, not fertilize our lawns before it rains and much more.”
In 2016, the Chesapeake Bay Commission championed the idea of designating a week in June as Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week. The designation encourages residents to commemorate the week with events, activities and educational programs to acknowledge the significance of the Bay.
“People should have public access to the Bay so that they can explore and fall in love with it, creating the next generation of Chesapeake conservationists,” says Joel Dunn, president of the Chesapeake Conservancy. “We know that when people feel connected to the Bay, they’ll be more likely to help take care of it.”
While this week has been officially designated in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia, events will take place throughout the entire region to raise awareness about this valuable economic and environmental resource—a national treasure that directly connects over 18 million residents.
This article originally appeared on the Chesapeake Bay Program’s blog.