Chesapeake Bay Trust raises funds with new license plate design

The Chesapeake Bay Trust rolled out its new license plate design last October to help raise funds for environmental improvement initiative.

ANNAPOLIS — After nearly a year of artist bidding, deliberation and consultation with Maryland residents, the Chesapeake Bay Trust rolled out its new license plate design last October.

Since the new plates were released, the state has issued about 26,000 to Maryland drivers, according to the trust’s Executive Director Jana Davis.

The trust has been selling its Maryland environment-themed plates since the 1990s, but had only released two designs until now. The last one, depicting a blue heron, was issued 14 years ago.

The new, more colorful plates, which contribute to the trust’s fundraising efforts, feature a blue crab backdropped by the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and a sunny skyline.

The plates cost $20 each — 96 cents of which goes directly to grants for a variety of organizations — and the rest goes to the trust for redistribution into Bay restoration efforts, as well as educational opportunities for Maryland students.

According to the Trust’s website, it makes about “400 grants per year totaling between $10 million and $14 million” to schools, homeowners associations, civic associations, nonprofit organizations, faith-based organizations and local governments. It also sends nearly 80,000 students on field trips every year.Davis said thousands of Marylanders were the biggest influencers in how the new plates would eventually look, with their participation in two “really large” surveys.

The blue heron, which was featured on the old design, got the boot almost unanimously from Marylanders, who thought the blue crab should take center stage instead, Davis said.

“When you think about Maryland, the first thing that most people say is crabs,” she said. “So to (many), the blue heron was not as much a symbol of Maryland as the blue crab.”But it wasn’t just the blue crab people wanted to see, Davis said. About 90 percent of people who participated in the polling voted that the new design should feature the Bay Bridge.

“I’ve had people tell me, ‘I love the Bridge. It’s so Eastern Shore,’” she said. “These two icons, the crab and the Bridge, speak most strongly to how Marylanders feel they interact with the Bay.”One thing Marylanders didn’t want to change, though, was the sky-blue background, which Davis attributed to people’s likely connection between the bridge and a sunny summer vacation.

For more information on the plates and the Chespeake Bay Trust, visit

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