Chesapeake Bay Recreation Area Task Force focuses on angoals

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The creation of a unified Chesapeake National Recreation Area has entered the next phase of becoming a reality.

Sen. Chris Van Hollen and Rep. John Sarbanes, both D-Mds, announced Tuesday that the task force behind the initiative had identified 10 principles behind the recreation area, including prioritizing the stewardship of the environment and the balance between land rights and realistic tourism objectives.

Currently, the two most promising locations, according to the task force, would be in Anne Arundel County and the Hampton, Virginia area.

“Marylanders know the Chesapeake Bay is a national treasure, and the creation of a Chesapeake National Recreation Area will help bring that fact to greater light, bringing national recognition and greater opportunity to our region.” , Van Hollen said.

He also noted that such a step better shapes a working draft of the legislation and encompasses the purpose of the project.

Van Hollen did not say when the legislation would be drafted, saying it could be expected “in the coming months”. Despite this, he added that he was “full steam” to establish the area.

“Pursuing the creation of the Chesapeake National Recreation Area has been a long-term endeavor with extensive community engagement and transparency,” Sarbanes said. “In collaboration with the Task Force stakeholders, Senator Van Hollen and I have identified a set of principles that will create an area dedicated to the rich history and ecological significance of the Chesapeake Bay that will be accessible to the community. .”

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Sarbanes echoed Van Hollen’s sentiments, calling the release of the framework a much-needed step forward.

According to the task force’s project outline, they will impose “no additional regulations on recreational or commercial activities” in the waters of the bay, and the authority of the National Park Service will not supersede the authority of the State.

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Chesapeake Conservancy CEO and President Joel Dunn applauded the group’s efforts to finally make a formal recreation area on the bay a reality after more than 30 years without success.

“The Chesapeake Bay is unquestionably a national treasure, worthy of federal recognition and resources to enhance the visitor experience, increase public access, and celebrate the bay’s diverse and nationally significant places and stories” , Dunn said.

According to legislative principles, the proposed legislation should emphasize the national significance of the bay as a national treasure. As the nation’s largest estuary – with its watershed covering more than 64,000 square miles – legislation creating a national recreation area will highlight the ecological significance, iconic landscape, rich culture and history and the vast recreational benefits of the area.

As a land-based proposal, the bill “will significantly improve recreation and businesses based in the Chesapeake Bay Area, it will not impose any additional regulations,” the preview states.

Rather than a single location, the Chesapeake National Recreation Area will build on the success of the National Park Service‘s Chesapeake Aquatic Walkways and Trails program and elevate key sites around the bay while connecting them under the brand Park Service contact information.

As with all land-related legislation, it will be published for public consultation.

The legislation will create an advisory commission to allow for continued public participation.

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Finally, the legislation will create a Citizens’ Advisory Commission to ensure sufficient community engagement in the development and implementation of the Chesapeake National Recreation Area management plan.

The working group is made up of Sens. Ben Cardin, D-MD; and Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, both D-Va; Representatives Bobby Scott, D-Va; Rob Wittman, R-Va; and Elaine Luria, D-Va with more than 40 state and federal organizations and environmental and business groups.

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