Lawmakers Mull Adding Chesapeake Bay to NPS Roster
Some lawmakers are throwing their support behind an effort to give the National Park Service some oversight over the Chesapeake Bay, but they warn further scrutiny is needed…. In 2009, President Obama signed an executive order recognizing the nation's largest estuary as a national treasure and calling on agencies to better coordinate on restoration efforts…. But bay champions say the National Park System — which includes national parks, national monuments, trails and recreation areas — would yield additional benefits, including more visitors and recognition. "The designation of the bay as a national recreation area can bring crucial resources to our conservation efforts, while driving continued economic success," an aide to Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) told E&E News. Van Hollen, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, is actively organizing support for the effort and soliciting feedback…. In the House, Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.), co-chair of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Task Force, will lead a bipartisan legislative effort. "The Chesapeake Bay has long been an economic driver for our region and an environmental treasure for our nation. It deserves close consideration for a national park unit designation," Sarbanes said. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said the bay is one of Maryland's and the nation's greatest natural resources and is critical to the livelihoods of Marylanders. Hoyer said the "potential designation of the Chesapeake Bay as a national park is an interesting idea that deserves careful consideration." House Natural Resources Committee member, Rep. Anthony Brown (D-Md.), is eager to advance "innovative conservation efforts" with partners like the Chesapeake Conservancy but is concerned about the lack of investment into the bay by the current administration. "The Chesapeake Bay is absolutely vital to Maryland's ecosystem, cultural heritage and economy," said Brown in a statement. "At a time when the Trump Administration has consistently tried to cut funding for Bay restoration," he said, "our priority must be first and foremost protecting existing conservation efforts and laying the groundwork to expand the promising work being done."