As a nonprofit organization, the Chesapeake Bay Trust was created by the General Assembly in 1985 (Chapter 789, Acts of 1985). Although established as an instrumentality of the State, the Trust operates with independent financial and policy-making status. It is not subject to the legislative appropriation process and receives no public tax dollars.

The Trust's mandate is to promote public awareness and participation in restoring and protecting the water quality and the aquatic and land resources of Chesapeake Bay. To accomplish this, the Trust seeks contributions from the business community and private citizens which it distributes to groups undertaking projects to help the Bay and its tributary rivers and streams. Grant recipients are nonprofit organizations, civic and community groups, schools, and local public agencies that have conducted stream cleanups, tree and marsh grass plantings, erosion control projects, water quality studies, and habitat restorations. The Trust also has supported enhancement of environmental education centers, and development of educational materials to inform people of all ages about the Bay.

In addition to grants from businesses and private citizens, the Trust receives the proceeds from sales of the commemorative Chesapeake Bay license plate, which also provide "Plate Perks." Voluntary donations to the Chesapeake Bay and Endangered Species Fund, via the tax check-off on the Maryland State income tax return (line 37), also support the Trust. Created in 1989, the tax check-off enables Marylanders to contribute for Bay cleanup and programs that aid endangered species.

Healing Hunting & Fishing Fund. Since July 2020, the Chesapeake Bay Trust has administered the Healing Hunting and Fishing Fund. Established in 2017, the Fund previously was overseen by the Department of Natural Resources until 2020 (Chapter 536, Acts of 2020).

Urban Trees Program. Beginning in June 2021, the Trust became responsible for the Urban Trees Program, an initiative to plant trees in underserved areas (Chapter 645, Acts of 2021).

In March 2019, the Chesapeake Bay Trust moved from 60 West Street, Annapolis, to its present location at 108 Severn Avenue, Annapolis.


The Chesapeake Bay Trust is governed by a nineteen-member Board of Trustees. The Governor appoints fourteen of its members to four-year terms. Five members serve ex officio (Code Natural Resources Article, secs. 8-1901 through 8-1910).

In July 2010, the Chesapeake Conservation Corps Program was established under the Chesapeake Bay Trust (Chapter 276, Acts of 2010).

Through grants to qualified organizations and local governments, the Program mobilizes, educates, and trains young people to work with communities and schools to promote energy conservation, and conduct environmental restoration and clean-up, water quality monitoring, and reforestation. Young adults, ages 18 to 25, are placed by the Program with nonprofit or government agencies for one-year terms of service in the Chesapeake Bay region. This provides them with hands-on environmental and leadership experience (Code Natural Resources Article, secs. 8-1913 through 8-1924).

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