In the first month of a new campaign, the Motor Vehicle Administration has sold more than 24,000 Chesapeake Bay commemorative license plates, raising $258,000 for bay cleanup efforts.

Campaign sponsors hope to raise $1 million toward the environmental efforts with the $20 plates, which went on sale Jan. 1. Half of the proceeds are to go directly to saving the bay.

Last spring, Gov. William Donald Schaefer pushed for legislation authorizing the MVA to issue a commemorative plate to provide funds for the Chesapeake Bay Trust.

Created by the General Assembly in 1985, the trust is a nonprofit organization that promotes public awareness and participation in the restoration and protection of the Chesapeake Bay.

The commemorative plates, which feature a Great Blue Heron, are the first in Maryland to be cast of recycled aluminum and are made by the inmates at the Maryland House of Correction in Jessup.

The Great Blue Heron, which campaign sponsors say represents the spirit of conservation and rebirth, can be found feeding in almost any wetlands throughout the state. During the summer, the birds are most abundant in the wetlands surrounding the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries.

The slogan "Treasure the Chesapeake" appears along the bottom of the plate, with the heron centered in a field of bay grasses on a white background with blue and green highlights.

To generate additional funds, a limited number of license plates with the letters "BAY" and three numerals are available for $l00, and personalized numerical combinations will be sold for $500. The "BAY" plates can be ordered through the Chesapeake Bay Trust in Annapolis.

Other plates are available at MVA offices.