Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), a senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, praised has introduced legislation 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 is the economic, historical and cultural heart of our region. 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, Chairman of the Senate Water and Wildlife Subcommittee. “I am proud to help continue federal support for this important program supporting the natural gateways to the Chesapeake Bay.”
The Chesapeake Gateways and Watertrails Network is a state, local, and federal partnership of 172 Chesapeake sites and water trails that offer interpretation, education, youth employment, recreation, public access to the Chesapeake Bay and rivers, and trailheads for the Captain John Smith Chesapeake and Star-Spangled Banner national historic trails.
Visitation at Chesapeake Gateways sites exceeds 10 million people annually, and the competitive grants program is oversubscribed every year. 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.
The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in North America, with a length of 200 miles and 11,684 miles of tidal shoreline, more than the entire U.S. West Coast. About 100,000 streams and rivers thread through the Chesapeake’s 64,000-square-mile watershed, which is home to almost 17 million people across Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.