Sarbanes, Van Hollen Announce Working Group to Explore Designation of a Chesapeake National Recreation Area

March 11, 2021
CONTACT: Natalie Young | |
(202) 225-4016  

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman John Sarbanes and Senator Chris Van Hollen (both D-Md.) today led a bicameral group of lawmakers and more than 30 regional organizations in forming a Working Group to explore the designation of a Chesapeake National Recreation Area managed by the National Park Service.

Despite its ecological importance, iconic landscape, rich culture and history and vast recreational benefits, the Chesapeake Bay region does not have a unified National Park System designation. Proponents agree that a unified designation provides an opportunity to help conserve the Bay, deliver additional federal resources to the region and spur economic growth and prosperity across the Watershed.

The Working Group, led by Senator Van Hollen and Congressman Sarbanes, will collaborate over the coming months to consider legislation that would designate a unified Chesapeake National Recreation Area. The proposed legislation would be released for public comment.

“Designating a national recreation area in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed could help protect the Bay for future generations and permanently enshrine the Bay as an American treasure,” said Congressman Sarbanes, who co-chairs the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Task Force. “I look forward to working with communities and stakeholders throughout the region – who have worked tirelessly to conserve the Bay – as we explore this important initiative.”

“Marylanders know the Chesapeake Bay is a national treasure. Designating a Chesapeake National Recreation Area will highlight that reality – and bring national recognition to the importance of the Bay and its natural, cultural, historical and recreational significance. This is also a unique chance to bring new resources to protecting the Bay and to generate new opportunities to grow Maryland tourism and outdoor recreation. While this will be a challenging undertaking, I have confidence that this Working Group will unite behind these common goals,” said Senator Van Hollen.

Members of the Working Group include:

  • The State of Maryland
  • The State of Virginia
  • Chesapeake Conservancy
  • The Chesapeake Bay Commission
  • The National Parks Conservation Association
  • Choose Clean Water Coalition
  • The Conservation Fund
  • The Chesapeake Bay Foundation
  • Nature Conservancy
  • Potomac Conservancy
  • REI
  • The National Trust for Historic Preservation
  • The American Sportfishing Association
  • The National Marine Manufacturing Association
  • The Watermen of Maryland
  • The Sport Fishing Commission
  • Historic Annapolis
  • Oyster Recovery Partnership
  • Blue Oyster Environmental LLC
  • Preservation Virginia
  • Shellfish Growers of Virginia
  • The James River Association
  • Virginia Interfaith Power & Light
  • The Maryland Marine Trade Association
  • The Audubon Naturalist Society
  • Living Classrooms
  • The Hispanic Access Foundation
  • Latino Outdoors
  • Southeast Rural Community Assistance Project
  • Chispa Maryland
  • Baltimore Tree Trust
  • Black Watermen of the Chesapeake