Popular Chesapeake Bay License Plate Up for Redesign

The current Bay Plate

The current Bay Plate

It's one of the most distinctive license plates around: the "Treasure the Chesapeake" Bay plate, featuring a heron named Wade and a crab named Clawdia.

The original 1990 Bay Plate

The original 1990 Bay Plate

But the license plate's current design is now 14 years old, and it may be time for some sprucing up. The Chesapeake Bay Trust and Maryland's Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) are seeking new design ideas for the license plates.

They've put out a Request for Proposals from graphic designers, from whom they will choose the best three. Then the Chesapeake Bay Trust will hold focus groups with Marylanders from all over the state to see which design people like best. But those new designs will still have to measure up against the current Bay Plate, which Executive Director Jana Davis tells us is very popular.

"We hear nothing but good things about the current design," she says. "If it's still the favorite, we may not change it too much."

Right now, the Bay Plate is on 300,000 Maryland vehicles, with 15 percent of people saying there is at least one Bay Plate in their family. It's been on the road since 2003, and before that, the original Bay Plate design was issued from 1990 to 2003.

It's an effective way to support the state's environmental efforts. The Bay Plates raise funds for on-the-ground restoration projects and education.

Each Bay Plate costs $20, and that's enough to send one student on an environmentally based field trip and to plant two trees.

Davis emphasizes that the funds don't just benefit the Bay itself, they help with projects in every county in the state.

Megan Viviano