Two-year study labels Chesapeake Bay “unquestionably nationally significant”
Washington, DC (09/15/04) - A study released by the National Park Service (NPS) finds that an enhanced version of the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network would be the most effective and efficient way for the National Park Service to help protect and tell the story of the Chesapeake Bay. Citing the Bay as “unquestionably nationally significant and a major part of the nation’s heritage,” the report finds that the Network approach encourages people to experience the diversity of the Bay and its natural, cultural, and recreational resources.
In selecting its preferred alternative, the NPS examined four main criteria: national significance, suitability, feasibility and management alternatives. The study found that enhancements to the existing programs of the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network will allow the Park Service to assist partners in telling the story and preserving the resources of the Chesapeake Bay. This approach to the Chesapeake is different from proposing a traditional national park.
“The Chesapeake Bay is a place of immense complexity, astounding diversity and incredible beauty,” said NPS Director Fran Mainella. “By providing venues for the public to visit, learn about and appreciate the Chesapeake, we hope to strengthen the partnerships needed to insure its grandeur for future generations.”
The Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network includes natural, cultural and recreational sites across the watershed. Since its inception in 2000, the network has expanded to include 140 designated Gateways, including 21 water trails, each of which conveys a part of the Chesapeake story. The National Park Service would not manage or acquire any new lands, but would continue to assist designated Gateways with interpretation and education, improving public access and engaging citizens in the stewardship of Chesapeake Bay resources.
Specifically, the study’s preferred alternative includes: Continuing the Gateways Network by making it a permanent National Park Service program; Helping partners establish two Chesapeake Bay Interpretive Centers; and, Better linking Gateways with their surrounding Bay landscapes through interpretation and education programs.
Through an extensive public comment program that included open houses and a traveling exhibit, more than 3,000 comments were submitted to the Park Service. Ninety two percent supported doing more than the status quo.
The “Chesapeake Bay Special Resource Study” was initiated at the request of Congress. The study, along with recommendations, will be transmitted to Congress by the Secretary of the Interior.
Complete information on the study is available at www.chesapeakestudy.org
For more information contact:
John Maounis (410) 267-5778
Electronic version: Portable Document file (.pdf) - 131.0 kb