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Warner & Kaine Push to Expand Chesapeake Bay Public Access

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine joined Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tom Carper (D-DE), Chris Coons (D-DE), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) to introduce legislation to reauthorize the highly successful Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails program run by the National Park Service. For more than 20 years, the Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network has expanded public access to the Chesapeake Bay through a state, local, and federal partnership of 172 Chesapeake sites, parks, wildlife refuges and water trails. The program facilitates enhanced interpretation, education, youth employment, recreation and access to the Chesapeake Bay and rivers, and trailheads for the Captain John Smith Chesapeake and Star-Spangled Banner national historic trails.

“Virginians deserve to be able to enjoy all the natural treasures that our Commonwealth has to offer, and the Chesapeake Bay is no exception,” said Warner. “Reauthorizing the Chesapeake Gateways and Watertrails program will facilitate community access to the Bay and further public education about the Bay’s unique history and rich ecology. This legislation will also continue to boost Virginia’s outdoor recreation industry, which supports 197,000 direct jobs and generates more than $21 billion in consumer spending per year.”

“Every year, the Gateways and Watertrails Network teaches millions of visitors about the vital historic, economic, and environmental role the Chesapeake Bay watershed plays,” said Kaine. “There are over three dozen Gateways and Watertrails sites across Virginia, and I’m proud of this bipartisan effort to continue supporting them and the surrounding local economies.”

Visitation at Chesapeake Gateways sites exceeds 10 million people annually, and the competitive grants program is oversubscribed every year. The National Park Service Chesapeake Bay Office provides matching grants between $5,000 and $50,000 for projects that enhance public education of and access to the Chesapeake Bay. Only sites that have gone through a rigorous review process and have been formally selected as part of the Gateway and Watertrails Network are eligible for the competitive grants.