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Draft Legislation Would Create Chesapeake National Recreation Area


Friday, November 18, 2022   

Newly drafted legislation would combine swaths of land in Virginia and Maryland to create the Chesapeake National Recreation Area.

Although it's been in the works since the 1980s, it could come to fruition within the next year. The new recreation area would include parks and visitor centers that would be managed by the National Park Service.

Keisha Sedlacek, interim federal affairs director for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, said she's glad to know the project's becoming a reality. She said there's more to it than just the region's natural splendor. It also would help protect the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

"Not only does it focus on the people," she said, "but it also focuses on protecting habitat, which of course is one of the things the National Park Service is known for."

Sedlacek said she finds the biggest issue with the new bill will be ensuring it gets bipartisan support. Both of its chief sponsors, Rep. John Sarbanes and Sen. Chris Van Hollen, are Democrats from Maryland. They're seeking
public comment
that they say will help finalize the legislation.

While the recent elections altered the dynamics of Congress, Sedlacek notes the committee working on the legislation includes both Republicans and Democrats. The real battle, she says will be getting congressional leaders to see a new recreation area as a top priority.

"I'm looking forward to the opportunity for folks in our region and those visiting to be able to have additional areas that they can get out to and experience nature."

She feels a new Chesapeake National Recreation Area would also help cultivate future generations of environmental stewards.

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