Public Access

The Chesapeake Bay and the major rivers are the region's ecological and cultural lifeblood. They are the primary features that have shaped human habitation for millennia.

Yet, the very resource that signifies Chesapeake, or Susquehanna, or Potomac to the world has become one that is hard for many people to reach. Year after year, residents of the Chesapeake watershed repeat the refrain: access to the water is too limited. Citizens want 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. Access to the water is a quality of life issue.

Chesapeake Watershed Public Access Plan
Through Executive Order 13508, federal agencies were asked to develop a strategy for protecting and restoring the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The executive order called for the National Park Service, in conjunction with watershed states, to "develop a public access plan to inform and guide expansion of Chesapeake watershed public access."

The resulting Chesapeake Bay Watershed Public Access Plan was produced by a Public Access Action Team, which includes people involved in public access planning and implementation in each of the Chesapeake watershed states and the District of Columbia and the National Park Service. In a series of meetings, and through an online process, the public participated in identifying existing sites and suggested potential sites. The public access plan:

  • summarizes the demand for public access in the Chesapeake watershed;
  • outlines the process, steps, and definitions used for developing this plan;
  • establishes the baseline of existing public access sites;
  • depicts specific potential public access sites that could be developed in the future, as well as areas and stretches requiring additional attention;
  • describes planning challenges to be considered in adding new access sites; and
  • summarizes findings and sets out next steps for implementing the plan and increasing access.

Read the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Public Access Plan Executive Summary or contact us to receive a hard copy of the full report by mail.

Last updated: August 10, 2018

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