House Passes Sarbanes Bill to Increase Public Access to the Chesapeake Bay

Chesapeake Bay Watershed Task Force Co-Chair Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) today announced the passage of the Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Reauthorization Act (H.R. 2427), a bipartisan bill authored by Congressman Sarbanes to help enhance public access to the Chesapeake Bay.

“This bipartisan bill will provide robust, long-term federal support for the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Program, which helps increase public access to the Bay,” said Congressman Sarbanes. “By connecting more Americans with the Bay, we can deepen ties to one of our country’s most important environmental treasures, inspire future generations of environmental stewards and give a tremendous boost to our region’s economy.”

As the largest estuary in the nation, the Chesapeake Bay extends through six states and the District of Columbia. It is home to more than 18 million Americans and thousands of species of plants and animals.

However, roughly 98 percent of the Chesapeake Bay’s 11,684 miles of shoreline is privately owned, leaving only a small fraction of shoreline available for public use.

The Chesapeake Bay Gateways Program helps maximize this tiny fraction of public shoreline by improving infrastructure, signage and exhibits at key public access points throughout the Bay Watershed. The program also supports education initiatives that connect young Americans with the Bay Watershed and help instill a passion for environmental stewardship.