VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam met with Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Friday to commit to action on climate change and more efforts to help restore the Chesapeake Bay.

At the meeting of the Chesapeake Executive Council at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Brock Environmental Center, Northam, Hogan and other leaders signed a climate change directive committing the Chesapeake Bay Program to address increasing threats of climate change in all aspects of the partnership’s work. 

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“I strongly believe that by working together as a region in a bipartisan way, we can and we will continue to find real, commonsense solutions to address climate change and to protect the Chesapeake Bay,” said Hogan, a Republican (Northam is a Democrat). “These challenges are too important to lose this opportunity to take action now.”

The council, established over 37 years ago, includes governors from all states in the 64,000-square-mile Chesapeake Bay watershed as well as the mayor of the District of Columbia, and guides policy and sets conservation goals for the partnership’s Chesapeake Bay Program. Northam currently chairs the council.

“A healthier Chesapeake Bay depends on a targeted, science-based approach that accounts for climate change. It will take bold, urgent actions to reach our goal of a Bay that is fully restored by 2025,” Northam said. “Virginia commits to working diligently with our watershed partners to meet this commitment in a resilient, practical, cost effective manner that benefits our vast waterways, our environment, and our economy.”

Northam says they will focus on nature-based solutions, such as the City of Virginia Beach’s restoration of more than 200 acres of marshes in Back Bay in Virginia Beach.

Hogan emphasized cleaning up the Susquehanna River, which starts in New York and empties into the bay, is key as well. He said he is submitting a memorandum to the Maryland General Assembly on Friday, laying out four new climate change goals in regard to the Chesapeake Bay.

The goal of this partnership is to recognize the need to increase the resiliency of the watershed, as well as the need to restore natural landscapes, habitats, public infrastructure, and communities so they can withstand adverse impacts from changing environmental and climate conditions.

“A clean Bay will generate more than $22 billion dollars each year in new economic value from improved commercial and recreational fishing, reduced drinking water treatment costs, resilience to climate change, and improved property values and quality of life in the region,” said Secretary of Natural and Historic Resources Ann Jennings. “It is time to lean in on these efforts, acknowledge the undeniable impacts of the climate crisis, and, most importantly, work across the watershed to respond appropriately using the best science and data to protect the Bay and our environment.”