WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Congressman John P. Sarbanes (all D-Md.) announced provisions in the Senate Fiscal Year 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to prevent the U.S. Navy from unilaterally curbing access to Greenbury Point Conservation Area at Naval Support Activity Annapolis (NSA Annapolis). The Senators fought to include this provision – and Congressman Sarbanes worked on a corresponding amendment in the House – following community concerns around the Navy’s proposed changes to access at the Greenbury Point.
“We are moving in the right direction in response to community concerns,” said Senator Cardin. “Next, we will work with the Navy to further expand public access and make Greenbury Point a model of coastal stewardship for the Chesapeake Bay.”
“For years Greenbury Point has been treasured by Annapolis residents and visitors, and taking away public access to this beautiful area would be a blow to the community. We’ve heard this message loud and clear from our constituents – which is why we worked to secure these provisions to protect its public use. We’ll be fighting to get this across the finish line to ensure Marylanders have a say in preserving access to this important Maryland asset,” said Senator Van Hollen.
“Greenbury Point is a critical conservation area, buffering the Chesapeake Bay from nutrient pollution while providing irreplaceable habitats for wildlife and access to the Bay for the community. I am proud to continue to fight alongside my colleagues to protect public access to this important wildlife refuge and cherished natural recreation area,” said Congressman Sarbanes.
Specifically, the legislative language that the lawmakers secured would prohibit the Navy from modifying or restricting access to the Conservation Area until the Secretary of the Navy submits a report to Congress that outlines proposed restrictions, and Congress passes a law allowing the Navy to move forward with those changes. The provision allows limited exceptions for the Navy to enact temporary restrictions in the interest of public safety, as it currently does in cases of emergency or live fire exercises. It also preserves the Navy’s option to transfer or lease the Conservation Area property to another public entity.
The text of the Fiscal Year 2024 NDAA was released by the Senate Armed Services Committee last week and in the coming weeks will receive consideration from the full Senate. Following that, the bill must be reconciled with the House of Representatives and signed by the President before becoming law.