Chesapeake Conservancy commends Gateways legislation, Congressman Sarbanes

The Chesapeake Conservancy today commended U.S. Congressman John Sarbanes (D. Md.) and ten cosponsors for introducing legislation to reauthorize The Chesapeake Gateways and Watertrails Network.

Joel Dunn, Executive Director of the Chesapeake Conservancy, which has been a strong advocate for the program, said, “The Gateways and Watertrail network has introduced millions of people to the Chesapeake Bay and provides much needed support to create access and education programs so people get to know this National Treasure.”

Last year, the National Park Service, which administers the program, provided grants to 21 organizations to develop access and education programs.  Many of the grants were to support the Capt. John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail, the Nation’s first all water National Trail, and the Star Spangled Banner Trail

Dunn noted that the network attracts tourists as well as residents and provides an economic engine for the region.

Parks, wildlife refuges, historic sites, and museums are among the Gateways that provide public access to the Chesapeake watersheds, streams, rivers, and the Bay. There are also nearly 2,000 miles of established and developing watertrails in the watershed’s six states and the District of Columbia.

Trail development helps achieve the public access goal set in the federal response to President Obama’s Executive Order 13508, the “Strategy for Protecting and Restoring the Chesapeake Bay watershed,” which calls for 300 new sites for hiking, paddling, enjoying a picnic, or fishing.

Congressman Sarbanes said that by “reauthorizing the Gateways and Watertrails Network, we will continue to encourage citizen engagement with the Bay and bring thousands of tourists to our region.”

The bill’s cosponsors include Representatives Steny Hoyer (D-Md), Jim Moran (D-Va.), Robert Scott (D-Va.), Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Rob Wittman (R-Va.), Donna Edwards (D-Md.), Gerry Connolly (D-Md.) and John Delaney (D-Md.).