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