Chesapeake Conservancy announces 2017 Champions of the Chesapeake
Last night, Chesapeake Conservancy celebrated the 2017 Champions of the Chesapeake at an awards ceremony honoring Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association and Microsoft Corporation. The Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association hosted the cocktail reception and awards ceremony for the Chesapeake Conservancy at George Washington’s Mount Vernon.
“Each year, Chesapeake Conservancy recognizes extraordinary leaders from across the Chesapeake for their significant and exemplary accomplishments that protect and restore our natural systems and cultural resources,” Chesapeake Conservancy President and CEO Joel Dunn said. “The honorees and their work highlights how the Chesapeake is a bipartisan, multi-generational, multi-cultural priority – for its beauty, for our economy, for our health and for our history – and that everybody has a role to play in its conservation.”
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan was honored for his commitment and leadership in fighting to protect federal bay funding; fully funding the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund; and supporting and signing legislation that will lead to the full funding of Program Open Space next fiscal year. In almost three years, Governor Hogan has invested $3 billion in Chesapeake Bay pollution reduction and related programs.
“Our entire administration has been about bipartisanship and trying to figure out common sense bipartisan solutions—working across the aisle. In this case, we have worked across state lines as well. We have a great relationship with Governor McAuliffe. Although we’re from different parties I think we both understand the importance of the Chesapeake Bay,” Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said. “One of the things I admire about the Chesapeake Conservancy is that they are a small organization that accomplishes really big things. It’s a very effective organization that does tremendous things for the Chesapeake Bay.”
Virginia’s First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe accepted the award on behalf of her husband, Governor Terry McAuliffe, for successfully protecting 1,000 natural and historic treasures in Virginia and securing millions in federal funding for land conservation across the watershed during his time in office.
“The great thing about the bay is it brings so many citizens together. The Chesapeake Conservancy—the great work that this nonprofit has done. We couldn’t do it at the state or federal level without the great work of the folks in the nonprofit community who come together, who are so passionate. They keep driving us and I give them credit. It’s the right thing to do and they have truly been leaders,” Governor McAuliffe said in a video shown at the ceremony.
Microsoft was recognized for providing technology that supports Chesapeake Conservancy’s work in precision conservation, leveraging technology through the Azure cloud to create the data needed to conserve land more efficiently while using less resources such as time and money. The goal of the partnership is to enhance conservation through technology for the Chesapeake and beyond.
“We’re so energized to see the amazing work that comes from a partnership between a global technology company like Microsoft and a small nonprofit like Chesapeake Conservancy. The innovative computational work led by this small group of about 20 staff is the kind of transformation we hope our tools, services and platforms enable. We’re excited to see what comes next,” Microsoft’s Chief Environmental Scientist Lucas Joppa said.
The Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association was honored for their leadership in preserving George Washington’s Mount Vernon, a national treasure, and their work to found Piscataway National Park–the first national park founded in the country to protect a historic viewshed. Mount Vernon first partnered with the Chesapeake Conservancy in 2006 to advocate for the creation of the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail.
Years later, the association would work with the Chesapeake Conservancy to further protect the viewshed by enlisting their services to build a geographic information system that allows anyone with a web browser to see how a proposed building might intrude on the view from Mount Vernon. It can show how much and what part of a building would be seen from Mount Vernon and which trees are important to screen the proposed structure from view.
“Preserving the viewshed is critical. George Washington wrote how pleased he was with the way Mount Vernon was situated, overlooking the Potomac and looking at Maryland. He was often painted on the piazza, looking at that view. Then in the 1950s that view was threatened. Congresswoman Frances Bolton, our vice-regent from Ohio, bought that threatened land and gave it to the Accokeek Foundation. Since that time, various organizations have come together to protect the viewshed. Among those are the Accokeek Foundation, the National Park Service, and the Chesapeake Conservancy, with whom we partnered on the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail. The Trail furthered our mission to preserve the unique Chesapeake Bay landscape and in doing so we created one of the first—if not the first—land trust, the first public easements on private land, and the first national park that was dedicated to simply to preserving the view,” Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association Vice Regent from South Carolina Virginia Dawson Lane said.