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Bay Blog: Captain John Smith Trail


National Park Service wants to help you 'Find Your Park'

In 2016, the National Park Service (NPS) will celebrate 100 years of sharing America’s special places and helping people make meaningful connections to nature, history and culture. In honor of this centennial birthday, NPS is partnering with the National Park Foundation to launch a public awareness campaign called Find Your Park.

Image by aradaphotography/Shutterstock.com

Through the Find Your Park initiative, the National Park Service is inviting everyone—and especially new audiences—to discover the special places that belong to us all. More than ever, it’s important that the national parks engage not only those who already know and love the parks, but also the next generation of visitors, supporters and advocates who will ensure the preservation and critical relevancy of our nation’s majestic landscapes, rich history and vibrant culture for the next 100 years.

Find Your Park invites the public to see that a park can be more than just a place. It can be a feeling of inspiration; it can be a sense of community. Beyond vast landscapes, the campaign highlights historical, urban, and cultural parks, as well as National Park Service programs that protect, preserve and share nature, culture, and history in communities nationwide.

Here in the Chesapeake Bay region, there are close to 100 national park places and hundreds more community parks and state parks, public access sites, wildlife refuges, water trails, hiking and biking trails, wildlife sanctuaries and celebrations of cultural heritage. The Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail connects many special places where people can have new experiences, make meaningful connections to nature and be inspired.

On National Trails Day, June 6th, the NPS Chesapeake staff and partners will be helping young people have on-the-water experiences with kayak trips around the Chesapeake. You can participate with a John Smith Trail experience at the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center, or one of many other inspiring places, and paddle through settings that look much as they did 400 years ago.

To find Chesapeake experiences and parks near you, use “Chesapeake Explorer”—the official NPS mobile app—or check the Find Your Chesapeake website.

Written by Charles "Chuck" Hunt – Superintendent, Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail


Four new rivers join Captain John Smith Chesapeake Trail

The National Park Service, with support of five states, has designated four rivers – the Susquehanna, Chester, upper Nanticoke and upper James – as new sections of the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail.

Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley talks about the Captain John Smith Trail.

(Image courtesy Michael Land/National Park Service)

Recognition of these connecting waterways adds 841 miles to the 3,000-mile-long trail and underscores their significance to the history, cultural heritage and natural resources of the Chesapeake region.

Joel Dunn, executive director of Chesapeake Conservancy said, “These [connecting] trails provide a focus around which communities can engage in efforts to increase recreational use of the Chesapeake's great rivers and protect the river corridors and landscapes. This kind of conservation helps communities celebrate their history and culture, protect wildlife habitat, and protect lands that have unique ecological values.”

The designation comes after considerable collaboration between the National Park Service, the five states through which these rivers flow, numerous American Indian tribes and strong support of the conservation community. The National Park Service will work closely with these partners to provide technical and financial assistance, manage resources, enhance facilities, and mark and promote interpretive routes along the connecting trails.

Visit the Chesapeake Conservancy’s website to learn more about these new rivers and the entire Smith Trail.


Photo Tour: Geocaching at Piscataway Park with the Accokeek Foundation

Do you have any clue what geocaching is?

I’m guessing a lot of you said no. Well, no worries. I didn’t know either. That is, until I went for the first time this week. Luckily, I had some enthusiastic volunteers to teach me the ropes.

Geocaching is basically treasure hunting outdoors using a GPS-enabled device. There are actually more than a million geocaches hidden around the world to discover.  We managed to find three of them at the Accokeek Foundation in Accokeek, Maryland. 

Your quest to uncovering a cache starts online at www.geocaching.com. You can see a map that lists all the geocaches hidden worldwide and pick which ones you feel like hunting down. You then grab the coordinates of those points and plug them into your GPS-enabled device to start your journey.

The GPS will get you close to the cache, but then you need to do a little exploring to find where it is hidden.  Once you find it, you take the prize hidden inside and leave your own prize of equal or lesser value for the next explorer to find.

Geocaching is a great way to get outdoors and explore different areas. It is also a great learning experience for kids. Many of the geocaches include riddles or puzzles that you must solve to find the hidden treasure.

The National Park Service and the Accokeek Foundation are hosting a geocaching event this Saturday, June 4, as part of the Captain John Smith Geotrail. If you’re looking for something to do this weekend, I encourage you to get out and try a new activity!

Here’s more information about the Captain John Smith Geotrail launch event:

The Captain John Smith Geotrail officially launches on Saturday, June 4th, at the Accokeek Foundation at Piscataway Park in Fort Washington, Maryland. The Maryland Geocaching Society, Northern Virginia Geocaching Society, and Magellan, manufacturer of GPS navigational devices will all be represented. Everyone will have a chance to win raffled door prizes, including a GPS device donated by Magellan. Geocaching volunteers will be on hand at the kick-off event to teach the basics to newcomers, and extra caches will be placed, including some just for kids. The event begins at 10:00 am and runs until 12:00.

A collectible, highly coveted, and trackable geocoin will be given to the first 400 geocachers who locate a minimum of 15 geocaches along the trail and record them on a special CJS Geotrail Passport. A sample of the coin and hard copies of the passport will be available at the launch event on June 4th. Coordinates for the CJS Geotrail cache sites will be released at approximately 11:30. Geocaching enthusiasts will download the coordinates, pick up their passport, and spend the rest of the weekend on the Captain John Smith Geotrail!

Matt Rath's avatar
About Matt Rath - Matt was the multimedia specialist for the Bay Program.


Bay Program acting director appointed to advisory council for John Smith Chesapeake Trail

Chesapeake Bay Program Acting Director Jim Edward has been appointed by U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to a two-year term on the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail Advisory Council.

The 25-member council advises the National Park Service on matters related to the trail, including trail management, public access, recreational opportunities and indigenous cultural landscapes.

The council includes representatives from Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Department of Defense, a range of governmental and non-governmental organizations, and American Indian associations.

“The people appointed to service on the Advisory Council will contribute in many ways to the development of a rich educational and recreational trail experience for the public,” said John Reynolds, Advisory Council chair.

The Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail follows the routes of John Smith’s 1607-1609 voyages throughout the Bay and several tributaries. The 3,000-mile trail offers visitors recreational and educational experience both on land and water.

For more information about the trail, visit www.smithtrail.net.

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