December 14, 2023

Van Hollen, Cardin, Sarbanes Secure Provisions to Codify Public Access to Greenbury Point in Senate-Passed Defense Bill

Today, U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin and Congressman John P. Sarbanes (all D-Md.) announced their success in securing Senate passage of their provision to prevent the U.S. Navy from unilaterally blocking public access to the Greenbury Point Conservation Area at Naval Support Activity Annapolis (NSA Annapolis). After securing language in the Senate-drafted Fiscal Year 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in July to prevent the Navy from making long-term public access restrictions to the Conservation Area without Congressional approval, the lawmakers worked to include and strengthen these protections in the final version of the annual defense bill. The legislation, which passed the Senate Wednesday, will prohibit the Navy from modifying or restricting public access to Greenbury Point, with few exceptions such as for emergencies or temporarily in the interest of public safety, as it currently does for live fire exercises. The lawmakers’ provision also preserves the Navy’s option to transfer or lease the Conservation Area property to another public entity. The annual defense bill is expected to be considered by the House of Representatives later this week.

“For years, Annapolis residents and visitors have cherished the opportunity to explore Greenbury Point – one of the few publicly accessible areas of the Bay. As the Navy has considered altering that access, our constituents expressed their strong opposition to changing that policy. That’s why we fought for this provision that says in no uncertain terms – Greenbury Point must stay open to the public,” said Senator Van Hollen.

“Preserving Greenbury Point balances the needs of the Navy with the needs of the community,” said Senator Cardin. “Its proximity to the Chesapeake Bay makes it an important place for outdoor recreation and conservation in the region. Ensuring public access and preventing further development will allow Greenbury Point to continue to be a model of coastal stewardship for the Chesapeake Bay.”

“For more than two decades, Greenbury Point has served as a critical wildlife refuge and cherished natural recreation area for the public, bringing the Bay within reach for more Maryland residents and visitors,” said Congressman John Sarbanes. “Maintaining public access to this space has been a top priority, which is why I am so pleased that a provision preventing long-term restrictions to access at Greenbury Point was included in the final NDAA. I’ll keep working with Senators Van Hollen and Cardin to ensure that the Greenbury Point Conservation Area remains protected and publicly available.” 

Having passed the Senate, the bill must now pass the House and be signed by the President before becoming law.