by William C. Baker, CBF President

Forty-five years ago, I was high up in a tree, pruning dead wood. I was a part time tree surgeon. The owner of the tree, Truman Semans, a founding member of CBF, looked up and asked me: “Will, would you like to save the Bay?”

A week later, I started as an intern with CBF. Five years later, I became president. Now, in my 40th year leading CBF, I have decided to retire at the end of this year.

The sun rises over Richmond’s Pony Pasture on the James River. Photo by David Everette.

When CBF was founded more than 50 years ago, the Bay was dying. Today, because…

by William C. Baker, CBF President

A blue heron wades through a marsh.
A blue heron wades through a marsh.
Karen Jury

To save the Bay, participation in our democracy is critical.

In over four decades of working to restore the Chesapeake, I have never witnessed more setbacks to our nation’s fundamental environmental protections than what we have seen in the last four years. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has reversed dozens of clean air and water regulations that were working. And it has repeatedly refused to enforce the Clean Water Act, despite broad bipartisan support in Congress and the public.

As the Bay’s watchdog, we are leading a concerted effort to require the federal government…

by William C. Baker, CBF President

Update Nov. 7, 2020: CBF congratulates President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris.

In 1984, President Reagan said in his State of the Union address, “Preservation of our environment is not a liberal or conservative challenge, it’s common sense.” Turning attention to our national treasure, he continued, “We will begin the long, necessary effort to clean up a productive recreational area and a special national resource — the Chesapeake Bay.”

An aeiral image of a river leading to the Bay. The sunset lights the sky orange.
An aeiral image of a river leading to the Bay. The sunset lights the sky orange.
Kelly Benson

That was a great moment for the Bay, indicative of the extraordinary bipartisan cooperation the Bay has always enjoyed.

Decades later, with the…

Op-ed by William C. Baker, CBF President, for the Baltimore Sun.

Photo by Pete Olson.

This may be our last shot to save the Chesapeake Bay. We have a science-based plan, and we know that it’s working. But with only five years to go until the 2025 deadline for the nation’s most ambitious water restoration effort, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency refuses to do its job.

The agency’s failure to enforce the Clean Water Act and the terms of the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint kneecaps the decades long cleanup effort. For three years the Trump administration has tried to defund the Chesapeake Bay Program…

By Will Baker, CBF President

Lightening strikes light up the clouds above a body of water while lightening strikes the shore.
Lightening strikes light up the clouds above a body of water while lightening strikes the shore.
As climate change goes unabated, storms like this one over the Elizabeth River in Virginia will become more frequent and intense. Photo by Annette Averitt

The COVID-19 pandemic is the stuff of fiction writers. Sadly, it is all too real. The illness, death, and economic damage are nothing short of history in the making.

And yet, out of this tragedy, we see a glimmer of hope for our little Planet Earth.

In India, some have been able to see the Himalayas for the first time in decades. In England, nitrogen oxide pollution in cities fell by as much as 60 percent. And here in the U.S., …

Forest buffers separate farm fields from the West Branch Susquehanna River as it flows through Clinton County, PA. Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program.

By Will Baker, CBF President

“Will! Don’t you know Pennsylvania does not have land on the Bay!?”

That is a question I often get when I cite the scientific consensus that the Bay will not be saved unless Pennsylvania drastically decreases the amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment flowing into the Susquehanna and its tributary rivers. It is often combined with more spicy commentary about how CBF is being unfair, or worse. Let’s look at the facts.

  • First, the Susquehanna River supplies fully one half of all fresh water entering the Bay.
  • Scientists are confident that nearly 50 million pounds…

By William C. Baker, for the Bay Journal News Service

The Chesapeake Bay’s Thomas Shoal Lighthouse at sunset. Photo: Chris Sims

It is a critical time for the Chesapeake Bay.

The historic federal-state partnership working to clean up the Bay’s pollution is entering the final phase of restoration. By 2025, the six Bay states and the District of Columbia must have all of the pieces in place to meet science-based pollution reduction targets. If they succeed, we will all have clean water.

The restoration effort is unprecedented in scale and scope. Fully realizing its goals will result in the largest environmental success story in history. A saved Chesapeake Bay will provide…

Will Baker’s Testimony to the House of Representatives

Chesapeake Bay Foundation President Will Baker testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment on June 25, 2019. He spoke on the history and importance of the Chesapeake Bay, our “national treasure.” The following is the case he made to congress. View his will written testimony.

The Chesapeake Bay is America’s largest estuary. When Colonial settlers arrived more than 400 years ago, the water was pristine. Then, 44,000 native Americans had little impact on the 64,000 square mile watershed. …

By Will Baker, CBF President

It all comes down to Saving the Bay. Simple as that.

The Bay supports our livelihoods and our homes. It provides our first line of defense from storms and climate change. It inspires us with amazing sights.

Bottom line, the Bay demands we save it.

And we are! The most recent annual survey revealed the blue crab population in the Bay rebounded to its highest level since 2012, with an estimated total of nearly 600 million crabs. Clean water, healthy grass beds, and functioning oyster reefs are key to the crabs’ success. The Bay’s dead…

By Will Baker, CBF President

A team of early morning kayakers navigates Nassawadox Creek, a Chesapeake Bay tributary on Virginia’s Eastern shore. Photo: Gordon Campbell/

In 2018, record breaking storms across the Bay watershed increased pollution loads, adding more stress to a system still dangerously out of balance. Do the storms represent a “new normal?” Only the future will answer that, but we do know that such weather events are the characteristics of climate change as predicted by scientists for 30 years.

The damage caused by the extreme weather could have been far worse, were it not for the Bay’s increasing “resilience.” This internal resilience is the result of decades of regionally coordinated, science-driven, strategies to save the Bay. …

Chesapeake Bay Foundation

Saving the Bay through restoration, advocacy, education, and litigation.

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