Officials Participate in Trail Ribbon Cutting Ceremony and Celebrate Launch of Anacostia River Watershed Pilot Project
BLADENSBURG, M.D.—Officials from the District of Columbia, Maryland, and key U.S. federal agencies including the Department of the Interior, the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency today gathered at Bladensburg Waterfront Park to highlight progress made to restore the Anacostia River Watershed and call attention to projects underway to transform it into a model urban waterway and park.
Officials at today's event included Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray, U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, Environmental Protection Agency Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe, Deputy Secretary of Transportation John D. Porcari, National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis, and Prince George's County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III.
Home to more than 800,000 residents, 43 species of fish and more than 200 species of birds, the restoration of the Anacostia River Watershed and the development of the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail has twice been identified as a priority project for the Obama administration under the President's America's Great Outdoors (AGO) initiative and the Urban Waters Federal Partnership (UWFP). Both initiatives seek to reconnect Americans to the great outdoors and revitalize urban waterways in underserved communities across the country.
“Today we are celebrating the partnerships that are transforming the Anacostia River watershed into a national symbol of how once-neglected urban waterways can be cleaned up and restored to improve the quality of life and boost the economy in America's communities,” said Secretary Salazar. “Once known for pollution and poverty, these watersheds can become model urban parks cherished for their trails and access to river recreation.”
“The District of Columbia has always been committed to ensuring a healthy Anacostia River,” said Mayor Vincent C. Gray. “Working with Maryland and our federal partners to invest in our trails and parks, we will bring new life and greater economic stability to the communities, parklands and habitat that run along the Anacostia River and in doing so, make the Anacostia a national showcase for urban parks and habitat restoration.”
"The Anacostia River Trail is a great example of the lasting benefits transportation projects can bring to a community by connecting people to jobs and schools, encouraging economic development, and protecting the environment," said Secretary LaHood. "The Obama Administration is committed to working with our community partners to build great projects like this that provide people with affordable and green transportation options."
“Through innovative strategies and partnerships like the ones we're celebrating today, we can restore our local waters to be places where the environment is clean and healthy, where businesses want to set up shop and hire workers, and where residents can come together as a community,” said EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe. “We're working to make the Anacostia River a centerpiece of the community. In doing so, it will also become a model for the nation, demonstrating how we can transform our water challenges into incredible opportunities to revitalize the health and vitality of our communities.”
“Connecting people and communities is what the Anacostia River Trail, like the Anacostia River itself, is all about,” said Senator Cardin, Chairman of the Senate Water and Wildlife Subcommittee. “I'm proud to support federal investments that bring together the people of Maryland and the District of Columbia with each other, local economic opportunities and America's Great Outdoors. Federal dollars are tight right now, so it is important that we invest in the right places, like here on the Anacostia River, to help make our local communities more livable and more economically viable.”
“The Anacostia has always been important to our region. It's been a highway of commerce to the whole world, and it's served as the connecting force linking nearby communities to one another,” said Governor Martin O'Malley. “With our federal, state and local partners on board, we are working together to restore the Anacostia to its former glory, including moving forward on our 10-year restoration plan, and advancing our work to clean up the entire Chesapeake Bay. The new section we're opening today is a great start, but together with our partners in the District and in federal government, we are committed to completing the entire trail. We look forward to breaking ground in 2012.”
“Prince George's County is proud to host this major announcement for the National Capital Region,” said Prince George's County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III. “The Anacostia watershed is critically important to the environment and economy of the County. The investment from federal, state, local, and the non-profit community to improve the Anacostia River will improve the quality of life for all Prince Georgians.”
At today's event, officials participated in a ribbon cutting ceremony marking the recent completion of 1.5 miles of trail in Maryland and exemplifying the strong ongoing local, state, and federal collaboration to provide additional opportunities for residents and visitors to access and enjoy Anacostia Park and the Anacostia River.
During the ribbon cutting, Governor O'Malley announced $1 million in additional state funding to develop a trail link that will connect Maryland and the District of Columbia's Anacostia Riverwalk Trail Network. Once complete, the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail Network will offer nearly 60 miles of contiguous trails – including 39 miles in Maryland and 20 miles in the District of Columbia.
“It's truly exciting to see the penultimate segment completed in one of the Nation's largest trail networks,” said DOT Deputy Secretary John D. Porcari. “Let's redouble our efforts to complete the last link in the District of Columbia and maximize the benefits of this magnificent system for bikers, walker and commuters throughout the region.”
“Today's ribbon cutting ceremony celebrating the completion of miles of trails along the Anacostia River is a victory for our communities in Maryland and the District of Columbia,” said Congresswoman Edwards. “These types of projects provide multi-faceted returns that help revitalize local economies, create jobs, restore waterways and other natural environments, and promote healthy living. Residents throughout our region will benefit from these efforts in a variety of ways for years to come. I thank all of our partners at the local, state, and federal levels for making this project a success and I look forward to continue working together to further these efforts throughout our region.”
In addition to increasing public access through the development of trails, the District of Columbia and Maryland have been working with the Department of the Interior, the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency on several river cleanup and restoration projects. One such example showcasing the benefits of partnership is the Watts Branch Project, an innovative urban stream restoration project that will prevent 1,500 tons of erosion from entering the Anacostia. For more information on this project, please view the fact sheet below.
For a map of the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail Network, please click HERE.
For a fact sheet on Anacostia's Great Outdoors, please click HERE.
For a fact sheet on the Urban Waters Federal Partnership: New Life for the Anacostia River Watershed, please click HERE.