Cooperatove Conservation Project

Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network

Connecting People with the Chesapeake Experience

Location: Northeastern/Mid-Atlantic Region: Maryland New York Pennsylvania Virginia Washington, DC West Virginia

Project Summary: A partnership of more than 140 parks, refuges, museums, historic sites, and water trails builds citizen involvement in the Chesapeake region.
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Visitors experience the Chesapeake’s maritime heritage at many Chesapeake Bay Gateways
Resource Challenge
Chesapeake Bay is North America’s largest estuary, 2,500 square  miles of water fed by a 64,000 square mile watershed. The  Chesapeake suffers from centuries of human use and the impact of  today’s 16 million watershed residents. The Bay’s health, focus of  a long-standing state and federal conservation effort, depends on a  citizenry that enjoys and understands the Chesapeake’s resources  and is committed to protecting them.
The watershed’s size and diversity is a challenge to any coordinated  effort. With its many natural, cultural, and recreational resources,  traditional management models are not feasible at this scale. The  Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network is a system of parks, refuges,  museums, historic communities, and water trails throughout the  Bay watershed that helps visitors find, enjoy, and understand the Chesapeake’s many resources. Designated Gateways tell  the Chesapeake’s story, ultimately to foster involvement in Bay  stewardship. More than ten million people visit these sites every  year.
Initiated in 2000 in response to federal legislation, the Network  is coordinated by the USDI National Park Service and a multi organization Working Group. Gateways are nominated to join the  Network; after joining, they become eligible for technical assistance and matching grants, and participate in guiding Network initiatives 
Examples of Key Partners
USDI National Park Service, States of Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania, Chesapeake Bay Program, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Chesapeake Bay Trust, Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, Chesapeake Bay Commission, Environmental Protection Agency, and more than 140 individually managed sites.
Results and Accomplishments
In just five years, the Gateways Network has grown to include thousands of miles of trails and tens of thousands of acres at sites in five states and Washington, DC. More than 140 sites across 64,000 square miles are linked to coordinate visitor experiences and communicate the Chesapeake’s value.
Technical assistance and matching grants have helped Gateways Network members develop interpretive programs, complete  hundreds of miles of new water trails complete with maps  and guides, build kiosks at 45 trail access points, and develop educational curricula for students. Many more projects are  underway. Regular workshops and conferences bring Gateways Network members together to share strategies.
Several network-wide products orient the public to the  Chesapeake: a Map and Guide, exhibits at all Gateways, a website  that attracts 2,000 unique visits daily, new theme-based guides to  interpret Chesapeake sites, and a joint public awareness marketing partnership. 

The Network brings public and private natural, cultural, and recreational sites together across several states in a single network

Project Contact
Jonathan Doherty
Director, Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network
National Park Service



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