Chesapeake Champions

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation turns 50.

By Lydia Woolever - March 2017

Chesapeake Champions

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation turns 50.

By Lydia Woolever - March 2017

-Photography by Mike Morgan

Get Baltimore Daily.

Sign up today and you'll get our latest stories delivered straight to your inbox every weekday afternoon.

Will Baker was literally standing in a tree when he was asked to join the Chesapeake Bay Foundation some 40 years ago. As a tree surgeon, he was working on the property of a CBF trustee (and now mentor) who looked up at him and said, “Will, would you like to save the bay?”

Baker, who went on to become CBF president at age 27, has watched the now 50-year-old nonprofit, which focuses on education, advocacy, litigation, and restoration for the Chesapeake, blossom from a 22-person team in an old church annex in Annapolis to a 200-person staff with more than 200,000 memberships across the mid-Atlantic.

“Since we started, the Chesapeake Bay has really emerged as a national treasure,” says Baker. “I often say the bay sells itself, both in terms of reasons for concern and worry, and for love and determination to make it better.”

CBF, known for its blue-and-white bumper stickers and biennial State of the Bay reports (last year: a slightly encouraging C-), has become the largest organization dedicated to saving the bay. Through the decades, it has helped protect tidal wetlands, create critical areas for shoreline development, and drastically reduce pollution throughout the watershed, including here at home with Blue Water Baltimore and the Waterfront Partnership.

“We’re lobbyists in the broadest sense,” says Baker. “You have to be determined and keep fighting.”

And while there have been some positive changes, including improved water clarity and regrowth of underwater grasses, Baker says more work needs to be done. “We’re starting to see major, systemic improvements, but it’s nowhere near enough.” He hopes Gov. Hogan will place more emphasis on pollution reduction, fisheries and habitat restoration, and oyster sanctuary protection in the months ahead.

“I love this job because it’s big enough but small enough to think you can really make a difference in a lifetime,” he says. “I am so glad I looked down from that tree and said yes.”




You May Also Like


The Chatter

Carmelo Anthony’s Heart is Still in Baltimore

And other top news from Baltimore sports this week.

News & Community

Cameo: Bob Shirley

We talk to the longtime Maryland State Fair employee, who's been there for more than 70 years.

The Chatter

New Body Scanners Placed in Maryland Prisons to Reduce Violence

The advanced technology will minimize illegal activity within prisons.


The Chatter

City Neighbors Schools’ Maintain First Day Wildflower Tradition

Three local charter schools celebrate by presenting flowers to teachers.

News & Community

Head of the Class

Sonja Santelises is ready to lead Baltimore City Public Schools.

Arts & Culture

Don't Touch That Dial

WYPR looks good at 15.

-Photography by Mike Morgan

Connect With Us

Most Read


On a Dime
Five and Dime Ale House is worth the pocket change.

All The City's a Stage
Baltimore abounds with stage productions to entertain casual theatre-goers and thespians alike.

Baby on Board: What to (Actually) Bring New Parents
What our friends brought us the first time around that made all the difference.

Head of the Class
Sonja Santelises is ready to lead Baltimore City Public Schools.

Cameo: Heidi Daniel
We talk to the new CEO and president of Enoch Pratt Free Library.