The Senate and House have passed the Interior-Environment Appropriations Conference Report containing a $1 million funding request by U.S. Senators Benjamin L. Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski, (both D-MD) for the Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network. Funding for the Network supports both matching grants to participating Gateway sites for development of high-quality interpretation, access or conservation and restoration projects. The legislation – which also includes a Continuing Resolution to fund much of the federal government through December 18 — now goes to President Obama who is expected to sign it.
Established in 1998, the Chesapeake Gateways and Watertrails Network has created a partnership system of parks, refuges, museums, historic sites ands watertrails spanning the Bay watershed. In 11 years, the Network has grown to include more than 150 Gateway sites and more than 1,500 miles of watertrails, attracting more than 10 million visitors annually.
“The Chesapeake Bay Watertrails Network makes the entire Chesapeake Bay experience accessible and enjoyable for Marylanders and all Americans,” said Senator Cardin, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “The Bay is one of our nation’s most treasured resources and the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network makes it possible for visitors to understand and appreciate the Bay’s culture and history.”
“The Chesapeake Bay is part of who we are as Marylanders – it is part of our heritage and part of our culture. I am proud to support the Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network,” said Senator Mikulski, a member of the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee that funds this program. “The Gateways Program will help record our history, protect the Bay, reflect our values, and renew our sense of pride and wonder. I will continue to fight to preserve our national treasure and its history for future generations.”
Senator Cardin’s legislation (S. 479) to make the Gateways program permanent was approved by the Environment and Public Works Committee earlier this year. It now awaits final Congressional action.
The National Park Service provides matching grants up to $100,000 for projects that advance Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network (CBGN) goals of accessibility and stewardship. The CBGN provides essential infrastructure for developing the Captain John Smith Chesapeake Bay National Historic Trail.