WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) today praised Senate committee passage of a five-year reauthorization of the Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network.
“The Chesapeake Bay Watertrails Network is instrumental to making the entire Chesapeake Bay experience accessible and enjoyable for Marylanders and all Americans,” said Senator Cardin, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which voted the bill out of committee today. “The Bay is one of our nation’s most treasured resources and we have a duty and obligation to help people understand and appreciate its rich cultural, historic and natural wonders.”
Originally authorized in 1998, the Chesapeake Gateways and Watertrails program has created a partnership system of parks, refuges, museums, historic sites and water trails spanning the Bay watershed. In 13 years, the Network has grown to include more than 160 sites in six states and the District of Columbia, helping visitors appreciate the far-reaching role the Chesapeake Bay has had in our region’s culture and history. Visitation at Gateways sites has grown to more than10 million people annually.
The National Park Service provides matching grants up to $100,000 for projects that advance the Gateways Network goals of accessibility and stewardship. The Gateways Network recently awarded Maryland $711,000 for 15 separate projects, including $100,000 to develop the Star-Spangled Banner Watertrails access plan, $75,000 for the Annapolis Maritime Museum, and $86,450 for the Harve de Grace Maritime Museum to promote the Captain John Smith National Historic Trail.
Senate co-sponsors of the Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network Authorization Act, S. 760, include: U.S. Senators Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD), Thomas R. Carper (D-DE), Christopher A. Coons (D-DE), Mark Warner (D-VA) and James Webb (D-VA). Representative John Sarbanes (D-MD) has introduced a companion measure in the House of Representatives that has attracted seven cosponsors. The House bill is awaiting Committee action.