The Whole Watershed Act is a swift and positive response on behalf of the Maryland General Assembly to innovate its approach to regulating and supporting watershed health in the Chesapeake Bay (“Overview of the Whole Watershed Act of 2024,” April 16).

It’s encouraging to see scientists, lawmakers and regulators working together to bring evidence-based reasoning to new forms of watershed governance. The strength of the new approach is dual fold. It will localize the scale at which projects are conceived and implemented, empowering those who live, work, and play on waterways. The second strength is necessitating an integrated project that targets multiple benefits and outcomes of clean water — not the pollution reduction itself — but other critical characteristics of healthy watersheds such as recreation, access to waterways and healthy fisheries.

At Washington College’s Center for Environment and Society (CES), we are training the next generation of environmental stewards and change agents through interdisciplinary, place-based learning.  The Center’s Natural Lands Project has converted over 2,000 acres of marginalized cropland across the Eastern Shore into diverse native meadows, wetlands and forests to increase diversity and improve water quality.

Our Chesapeake Places Program strengthens regional links with students and communities coming together to foster preservation and planning of cultural and natural resources. And the center is presently broadening its research scope to encompass food systems and regenerative agriculture, acknowledging the abundant agricultural potential within our region.

As sustainability is at the heart of our mission here at Washington College, CES sees this legislation as a chance to propose timely, interdisciplinary educational and research projects that can merge natural science and cultural studies to improve, appreciate and understand our place in the watershed. We are excited to see what’s next for the Chesapeake Bay region and happily endeavor to be good stewards and citizens who live and work in this one-of-a-kind natural resource.

— Valerie Imbruce and Beth Choate, Chestertown

The writers are, respectively, director and deputy director of Washington College’s Center for Environment and Society.

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