WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Representative John Sarbanes (D-Md.-03), a member of the House Committee on Energy & Commerce, and Representative Rob Wittman (R-Va.-01), a senior member of the House Committee on Natural Resources, have introduced legislation in both the Senate (S. 1430) and the House of Representatives (H.R. 3063) to reauthorize the Chesapeake Gateways and Watertrails program run by the National Park Service. The bicameral effort would continue 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.
"I'm passionate about restoring and preserving the Chesapeake Bay. It’s always a good day when we can come together in a bipartisan fashion to recognize the historical, cultural, and recreational significance the Bay provides to millions in the watershed,” said Congressman Wittman. “The Chesapeake Gateway and Watertrails Program will help sustain the Bay as an economic driver for our region and ensure visitors to the watershed area recognize the Bay as the national treasure that it is.”
The Chesapeake Gateways and Watertrails Network is a state, local, and federal partnership of 172 Chesapeake sites, parks, wildlife refuges 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. Originally authorized as a pilot program in 1998, the program has been reauthorized several times since. The program was most recently reauthorized through 2013 in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 202.
“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. "I am proud of our regional effort to continue federal support for this important program supporting the natural gateways to the Chesapeake Bay, despite the president’s efforts to zero out funding.”
“The Chesapeake Gateways program is an important federal vehicle for safeguarding public parks, trails, wildlife refuges, museums and historic sites that are part of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed,” said Congressman Sarbanes, co-chair of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Caucus. “These public spaces not only play a key role in the restoration and protection of the Bay, but also provide residents with more access and deeper connections to it. In order to inspire the next generations of citizen stewards and to ensure that the Bay remains an environmental treasure for future generations, we must support important initiatives like the Gateways program.”
Original cosponsors of the Chesapeake Gateways and Watertrails reauthorization include: Tom Carper, ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and Chris Coons (both D-Del.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Mark Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-Va.).
In the House, original cosponsors include: Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.-05), Elijah Cummings (D-Md.-07), Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.-02), John K. Delaney (D-Md.-06), Bobby Scott (D-Va.-03), Gerry Connolly (D-Va.-11), Jamie Raskin (D-Md.-08), Barbara Comstock (R-Va.-10), Scott Taylor (R-Va.-02), Anthony G. Brown (D-Md.-04), Don Beyer (D-Va.-08).