What is the Chesapeake Bay National Recreation Area?

Imagine a 21st-century park—a collection of parks and other public lands in the Chesapeake Bay that bring national and international attention to the Bay’s significant natural, cultural, historical, and recreational resources. Formally connected through partnerships between the National Park Service, and communities and states, these parks would become the Chesapeake National Recreation Area (CNRA) and tell a common narrative about the nation’s largest estuary and one of the world’s largest environmental restoration efforts. This isn’t a new idea for the Chesapeake (see this editorial dating back to 1986), but it is an idea whose time has come.

Hub sites would enable partnerships between the National Park Service and communities and provide access to the Chesapeake Bay and to recreation and educational opportunities. Partner parks, such as state parks and national wildlife refuges, would voluntarily opt-in to the CNRA and benefit from additional resources and branding provided by the National Park Service.

The CNRA would highlight the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail, and could also offer connections to other trails such as the Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail, Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail and the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route.

The formal connection of these hub sites and partner parks, the expertise of the National Park Service, the additional federal resources for conservation and public access, and the influence of National Park Service designation and branding would put the Chesapeake Bay on par with other nationally significant landscapes. Additionally, it would boost national and international support for the protection and restoration of the Chesapeake Bay.

It’s time for the Chesapeake National Recreation Area. Join our push to create the CNRA! Sign on as a partner in our effort or donate to fund our work to advance the goal!

For more information, contact Chesapeake Conservancy’s manager of external affairs Reed Perry at rperry@chesapeakeconservancy.org.