Congressional Working Group to Explore Designating a Chesapeake National Recreation Area
Maryland congressional leaders announced a working group that will consider establishing a National Recreation Area for the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The recreation area would be managed by the National Park Service, which proponents say would bring in additional resources for conservation and recreation to the bay area. It could be anchored by a new visitor center, for instance, said Sen. Chris Van Hollen, who will lead the working group alongside Rep. John Sarbanes, both Maryland Democrats. “Just as you go to other national parks, you have the visitor center,” Van Hollen said. “It’s sort of a central place where people can come to learn more about the bay — both the ecology of the bay and the history of the bay.” The working group will “collaborate over the coming months to consider legislation that would designate the National Recreation Area and release it for public comment,” according to a news release from Van Hollen’s office. The group also includes Maryland and Virginia lawmakers and officials, plus representatives from environmental groups, sportfishing and commercial fishing groups and educational organizations.... The idea has been tossed around for years. In 2004, for instance, the National Park Service conducted a study evaluating possible paths forward for the Gateways program, and the possibility of establishing a Chesapeake Bay national park. Last year, in a letter to Van Hollen and Sen. Ben Cardin, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan voiced his support for the recreation area. “A Chesapeake Bay National Recreation Area would provide an incredible opportunity to showcase Maryland’s significant cultural, environmental, historical and natural resources, and provide an international platform for the State of Maryland and the broader Chesapeake Bay watershed,” Hogan wrote in his letter.