Push underway for national Chesapeake Bay recreation area

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — An effort is underway to make the larger Chesapeake Bay area part of the National Park Service.

The Virginian-Pilot reported Saturday that it would be called the Chesapeake National Recreation Area.

Behind the effort is a group of conservation nonprofits, community leaders and lawmakers who are working to draft legislation in Congress.

It’s unclear exactly what the recreation area would look like. Proponents don’t call for the entire bay to be included. But certain land-based sites would provide public access to it.

“The Chesapeake Bay is a national treasure, and the national park system represents America’s most treasured landscapes,” said Reed Perry, external affairs manager for the Chesapeake Conservancy, which is a part of the group.

The idea has been around since the 1960s. And the park service has already established itself along parts of the nation’s largest estuary. For instance, there is the 3,000-mile Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail and the Fort Monroe National Monument in Hampton.

A federal working group has been formed to explore the possibility of designating the Chesapeake recreation area.