The Chesapeake Bay restoration plan, the largest federally managed cleanup of a water body in the nation’s history, is helping to fuel a robust resurgence of underwater grasses and submerged aquatic vegetation, according to a new study, published on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study credited the growth to a federal and multistate effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay by reducing nutrient pollution. “The Chesapeake Bay has seen greater total and proportional recovery than any other submerged aquatic vegetation restoration project of which we are aware,” the study said.

“The clean-up not only helped submerged vegetation but increased its biodiversity,” said Jonathan Lefcheck, a researcher for the Center for Ocean Health, who was the lead author. Scientists say submerged vegetation is the bay’s “secret garden” because it serves as a  protective nursery for numerous species of marine life, such as clams, scallops, blue crab as well as waterfowl.

However, the expansion of vegetation could be short-lived.  President Trump’s 2018 budget seeks to eliminate the Chesapeake Bay Program’s $73 million annual funding.  However, Congress is more supportive of the program as the House approved a $13 million cut and the Senate voted to restore the program’s full budget.  The proposals are included in the omnibus bill that is being negotiated under a March 20 deadline.

The American Farm Bureau Federation joined by farmers in Pennsylvania and the National Association of Home Builders lost a federal suit to stop the Chesapeake Bay program.  They appealed to the Supreme Court, which declined to hear the case two years ago.