Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), Chairman of the Senate Water and Wildlife Subcommittee, has introduced legislation (S. 1740) to reauthorize the Chesapeake Gateways and Watertrails program run by the National Park Service. Senator Cardin’s bill continues a successful program that helps visitors appreciate the far-reaching role the Chesapeake Bay has had in our region’s culture and history while boosting our tourism economy.
“The Chesapeake Bay binds our region together through our culture and history, our economy and our way of life. The Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network is instrumental to making the entire Bay experience accessible, attractive and enjoyable for Marylanders and all Americans,” said Senator Cardin. “I am proud to help continue federal support for this important program supporting the natural gateways to the Chesapeake Bay.”
Originally authorized as a pilot program in 1998, the Chesapeake Gateways and Watertrails program set up a network of Chesapeake Bay-related sites, such as parks, wildlife refuges, and trails. The Network has grown to 160 sites in all six states in the Chesapeake Watershed. The National Park Service provides matching grants between $5,000 and $50,000 for projects that enhance public education of and access to the Chesapeake Bay. Only sites that have gone through a rigorous review process and have been formally selected as part of the Gateway and Watertrails Network are eligible for the competitive grants. Visitation at Gateways sites exceeds 10 million people annually, and the competitive grants program is oversubscribed every year.
Joining Senator Cardin as cosponsors of S. 1740, the Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network Reauthorization Act are Chesapeake Bay Watershed Senators Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD), Mark Warner and Jim Webb (Both D-VA), and Tom Carper and Chris Coons (D-DE). Congressman John Sarbanes (MD-3) has introduced a companion measure, H.R. 1649, in the House of Representatives.