Chesapeake Conservancy Applauds Senator Van Hollen and Congressman John Sarbanes’s Formation of a Working Group for a Chesapeake National Recreation Area
Annapolis, MD – Today, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and U.S. Representative John Sarbanes (D-MD) announced that they have formed a working group to consider establishing a Chesapeake National Recreation Area.
The working group is supported by fellow congressional members within the Chesapeake Bay watershed including Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA), and Congresswoman Elaine Luria (D-VA), and will convene to consider legislation that would establish a new unit of the National Park System – a Chesapeake National Recreation Area.
Senator Van Hollen and Congressman John Sarbanes’s working group features more than thirty regional organizations representing a diverse set of stakeholders such as the State of Maryland and the Commonwealth of Virginia, Chesapeake Bay environmental non-profits, representatives from the watermen community, marine manufacturers, DEIJ-focused organizations, conservation groups, and national park experts.
Chesapeake Conservancy President and CEO applauded Senator Van Hollen and Congressman John Sarbanes’s announcement, stating,
“I applaud Senator Van Hollen and Congressman John Sarbanes for their leadership to establish a Chesapeake National Recreation Area, which would be an official unit of the National Park System dedicated to the Chesapeake Bay. The Chesapeake Bay – our nation’s largest estuary – has been called a national treasure by both Republican and Democratic U.S. Presidents, it has been formally recognized by the National Park Service as ‘unquestionably nationally significant,’ but despite our Bay region’s amazing natural, cultural, and historic resources, the Chesapeake Bay is not represented in our National Park System. Public water access to the Bay remains very limited, and many communities – even some within miles of the Bay’s waters – are entirely disconnected from the Chesapeake Bay.
“A Chesapeake National Recreation Area would be a land-based, 21st century park, uniting new and existing National Park Service sites and trails, as well as partner parks, to increase public access to the Bay and to create a national park worthy visitor experience for all to enjoy. Along with protecting natural, cultural, and historic resources and connecting people to nature, national parks have a proven, positive economic impact on surrounding local economies. A Chesapeake National Recreation Area would strongly support the Bay region’s outdoor recreation economy which contributes billions of dollars annually through recreation and tourism activities.
“A Chesapeake National Recreation Area would also engage the National Park Service in telling a coordinated narrative about Bay’s rich history and heritage, such as the working Chesapeake and the watermen, as well as the story of the Bay restoration effort which is one of the largest ecosystem restoration efforts in the world. Interpretation and programming at Chesapeake National Recreation Area sites would celebrate and amplify inclusive narratives about the Bay’s diverse communities and cultures and stories important to Black, Latino, Native American, Asian-American and other underrepresented communities across Chesapeake regions.
“Thank you Senator Van Hollen and Congressman Sarbanes for establishing this working group, and Chesapeake Conservancy looks forward to supporting the proposal for a Chesapeake National Recreation Area.”