Maryland legislators announced draft legislation Monday to create a unified Chesapeake National Recreation Area (CNRA).
U.S. Sens. Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin, and Congressman John Sarbanes of Maryland are working with members of a congressional group on the draft legislation.
Public comment is welcome on the draft legislation to propose a CNRA, a land-based, 21st Century park uniting new and existing National Park Service sites and trails and partnering with other parks to increase public access to the Chesapeake Bay.
In a public statement, Chesapeake Conservancy President and CEO Joel Dunn said that a July 2022 public opinion poll showed support for the National Park Service status of the Chesapeake, with 83 percent of Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. respondents in favor of the CNRA.
“This is a great day for the Chesapeake Bay. Through national parks, monuments and recreation areas, the National Park Service recognizes and honors some of the most cherished landscapes in our nation,” Dunn said in the statement.
He added that “the Chesapeake Bay is just as spectacular as Yellowstone or Yosemite. It is as great as the Great Smoky Mountains and as grand as the Grand Tetons.”
The Chesapeake Bay is the United States’ largest estuary and a national treasure, as well as the birthplace of the nation’s identity and “the landscape that bore witness to the many diverse people who have lived along its shores, including the Indigenous peoples who lived here for thousands of years before the Europeans arrived, free and enslaved Blacks, and the watermen and women who’ve all played a vital role in the story of our Chesapeake Bay. Their stories are worthy of National Park Service interpretation and education.”