In studies, workshops, and public planning processes, residents of the Chesapeake watershed state that access to the water is too limited. Citizens ask for more places along the water where they can walk, sit, play, picnic, camp, swim, fish, watch wildlife and launch their canoes, kayaks, paddleboards, sailboats and powerboats. It is important to their quality of life, to their ability to enjoy the outdoors, and to their understanding and appreciation for a healthy Bay and rivers.
The draft plan was produced in concert with a team of people involved in public access planning and implementation in each of the Chesapeake watershed states and the District of Columbia with the National Park Service. The team encouraged citizens to participate in the planning work. In spring 2011, at regional workshops in Washington DC, Harrisburg, PA, Baltimore, MD, and Richmond, VA, residents made more than 130 suggestions for additional public access locations. Two months later, using an online mapping tool, citizens identified another 300 suggested sites for specific access points. Those contributions from citizens were instrumental in developing this draft Chesapeake Bay Watershed Public Access Plan.
The draft plan available now for review and comment depicts specific potential access sites ready for development as well as those that require further design and planning, and those in need of further analysis. The planning team recognizes that additional analysis is needed for access in urban areas and for camping associated with access to the rivers. This will be done over the coming year.
With the Public Access Plan as a guide, federal, state, local and non-profit organizations will prioritize and allocate available funding for development of access to the Bay and rivers. The collaboration among citizens to identify local places is important and will continue as we work together to develop needed access to enjoy the Chesapeake.
Review the draft plan here: http://www.baygateways.net/publicaccess/. We welcome public comments on this draft Chesapeake Bay Watershed Public Access Plan through August 24, 2012. Comments can be provided in two ways:
The identification of potential access sites is not a closed or static process. New opportunities for access will continue to be identified over time by citizens, non-governmental organizations, and local, state, and federal government. These will be incorporated in future updates to the data supporting this plan.