ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) -- The health of the Chesapeake Bay improved slightly last year, according to a new report by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

The foundation announced Wednesday that underwater grasses were the only bay health indicator that worsened in 2012. Bay grasses were hurt by high water temperatures in the lower bay and heavy rains that washed sediment and pollution into local waterways. On the positive side, crabs, oysters and bay water oxygen levels improved.

The foundation gave the bay an overall score of 32 out of 100, up one point over the last report in 2010 and four points since 2008.

Foundation President Will Baker says the bay is still dangerously out of balance, but he is cautiously optimistic that a new federally-led bay restoration strategy is beginning to work.

'We have made progress, but much of the Bay and many local waterways don't provide healthy habitat for fish, oysters, and other aquatic life,' Baker said in a news release. 'Pollution has cost thousands of jobs and continues to put human health at risk.'

-Ensuring the state legislature approves critical funding for upgrading municipal wastewater treatment plants, controlling stormwater runoff, and assisting farmers with soil and water conservation practices
- Working with state and local officials to ensure Virginia meets its two-year Bay cleanup benchmarks
-Ensuring Virginia implements the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's menhaden management plan protecting menhaden, the Bay ecosystem, and fisheries jobs

-ensuring that the Bay Trust Fund, which provides money and technical assistance to local jurisdictions is for the first time fully funded; -working with local jurisdictions to identify cost-effective strategies to achieve pollution reduction goals; and -defending gains made during last year's legislative session to reduce pollution from stormwater, septic systems, and sprawling development.

-working with state policy makers to secure financial and programmatic support for communities as they plan and implement Blueprint strategies
-assisting local governments with technical and stormwater permitting issues to ensure that local governments achieve their clean water goals
-continuing to assist farmers in efforts to reduce agricultural pollution through the implementation of on-farm best management practices

AP-WF-01-02-13 1535GMT

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