GLOUCESTER (AP) -- The Virginia Institute of Marine Science has received a nearly $1 million federal grant to develop tools to protect wetlands that keep pollutants from entering the Chesapeake Bay.

The three-year, $999,640 grant is from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA is overseeing the multi-state, multi-billion dollar initiative to restore the environmentally battered estuary.

The effort will be led by Carl Hershner, director of the Center for Coastal Resources Management at VIMS. He says Virginia has already lost half its wetlands, and it continues to lose these critical buffers.

He said the EPA grant will help develop resource-management plans that provide guidance and tools for protecting wetlands amid increasing development pressures.

Research has shown that by protecting headwater wetlands, the bay's water quality benefits.

AP-WF-10-04-12 0709GMT

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