July 28, 2023

Conserving the Chesapeake Bay as a CNRA

It is a historical moment for the Chesapeake Bay because as of July 27th, lawmakers finally introduced a bill to add the watershed to the National Park System after decades of discussion.

U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland says that making the Chesapeake Bay a Chesapeake National Recreation Area, or a CNRA, has been discussed for four decades and it has finally been introduced to congress.

“Congressman John Sarbanes and I introduced legislation to establish a Chesapeake National Recreation Area that would make the Chesapeake Bay a part of the National Park System,” Senator Van Hollen said. “We are committed to making sure we preserve it for generations to come while we also make sure the people who make their livelihood off the bounty of the bay can continue to succeed.”

This does not make the bay a national park, but it does allow the watershed federal resources and support.

“Recreation areas are a way to bring in the iconic brand of the national park service and help ensure we provide federal resources for conservation, but it will also boost tourism and economic development opportunities for people in the region,” Senator Van Hollen said.

The new bill comes after months of gathering input from people from all across the bay watersheds of Virginia, Maryland and Washington D.C. Mark Conway, Vice President of Programs at the Chesapeake Conservancy, says they even took a poll to see the public’s opinion on making the Chesapeake Bay a CNRA.

“An overwhelming amount of support,” Conway said. Eighty-three percent of folks from Maryland, Virginia and D.C. responded in favor of the idea of a park.”

President and Founder of the Blacks of the Chesapeake Foundation Vincent Leggett says the Chesapeake bay to him are waters of hope to people who depend on its resources. 

“Members in the seafood and maritime industry, whether that is watermen, boat builders, sail makers, owners of seafood processing plants and owners of five star restaurants and also individuals living in our urban centers.”

Senator Van Hollen says this bill is just the first step and that he’s confident that it will pass in the future.

By:  Jack Fiechtner
Source: WMDT