WASHINGTON D.C., DC — Delmarva Senators on Wednesday introduced legislation to reauthorize the highly successful Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails program run by the National Park Service.

For 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.

“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 Senator 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.”

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.

The senators involved in the legislation include Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Tom Carper (D-Del.), Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Mark Warner (D-Va.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.)

The legislation is endorsed by the Chesapeake Conservancy, National Parks Conservation Association, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Choose Clean Water Coalition, and the National Parks Conservation Association.

View the full bill below: