Last year, Chesapeake Bay Program partners opened 36 new public access sites along rivers and streams in the watershed, bringing the total number of access sites in the region to 1,208. In fact, more public access sites were opened in 2013 than in previously tracked years as states work to meet the public’s consistently high demand for ways to get on the water. Across the watershed, new trails, beaches and boat ramps will allow people to walk, play, swim, fish and launch their paddleboats, sailboats and powerboats into the Bay and its rivers.
From three new concrete boat ramps in Pennsylvania to 11 new canoe and kayak launches in Virginia, increasing public access to open space and waterways can strengthen the bond between people and place, boosting local tourism economies and creating citizen stewards who are engaged in conservation efforts.
The Bay Program tracks public access as an indicator of restoration success. Working alongside the National Park Service (NPS), the Bay Program’s Public Access Planning Action Team works to improve public access across the watershed. In January of 2013, this team released a public access plan designed to help partners achieve their goal of opening 300 new public access sites by 2025.
In 2013, 36 new public access sites were opened to the public, bringing the total access sites in the Chesapeake Bay watershed to 1,208. Cumulatively, more public access sites were developed in 2013 than in previously tracked years: 15 sites were opened in 2011, and 18 were opened in 2012. In 2013, Virginia opened 15 sites, Maryland opened 9, Pennsylvania opened 8, New York opened 3 and Delaware opened 1.
|Sharon Park||Cowpasture River||Alleghany||Canoe and kayak launch|
|Great Bridge Lock Park||Elizabeth River||City of Chesapeake||Canoe and kayak launch|
|Chapel Island||James River||Richmond City||Boat ramp|
|Eco-Discovery Park||James River||James City||Bank fishing|
|Gala||James River||Botetourt||Canoe and kayak launch|
|Lawrence Lewis Jr. Park||James River||Charles City||Boat ramp and pier|
|Mill Creek at Fort Monroe||James River||Hampton||Canoe and kayak launch|
|Powhatan State Park||James River||Powhatan||Boat ramp for small water craft, canoe and kayak launch|
|River Edge Park||James River||Amherst||Canoe and kayak launch|
|Tucker Park||James River||Goochland||Canoe and kayak launch|
|Occoquan ADA Kayak Public Access||Occoquan River||Prince William||Canoe and kayak launch|
|Perrin Wharf||Perrin River||Gloucester||Boat ramp and commercial fishing|
|Caledon State Park||Potomac River||Westmorland||Canoe and kayak launch and campsite|
|George Washington Birthplace National Monument||Potomac River||Richmond||Canoe and kayak launch|
|Old Mill Park||Rappahannock River||City of Fredericksburg||Canoe and kayak launch|
|Bladensburg Waterfront Park||Anacostia River||Prince George's||Floating universally accessible launch and pier|
|Jack Creek Park||Chesapeake Bay||Anne Arundel||Natural shoreline--hand-carry soft launch|
|Centreville Wharf Soft Launch||Corsica River||Queen Anne's||Floating soft launch and pier|
|Black Rock Mill Soft Launch||Great Seneca Creek||Montgomery||Natural shoreline--hand-carry soft launch|
|Riffle Ford Road Creek Access||Great Seneca Creek||Montgomery||Natural shoreline--hand-carry soft launch|
|Friendship Landing Soft Launch||Nanjemoy Creek||Charles||Floating soft launch|
|Accokeek Foundation Boat Dock||Potomac River||Prince George's||Pier|
|Accokeek Foundation Soft Launch and Fishing Pier||Potomac River||Prince George's||Floating soft launch|
|Seneca Creek Soft Launch||Seneca Creek||Montgomery||Natural shoreline--hand-carry soft launch|
|Little Juniata||Little Juniata River||Huntingdon||Bank fishing|
|Little Juniata||Little Juniata River||Huntingdon||Bank fishing|
|Crary Park||Susquehanna River (North Branch)||Luzerne||Boat ramp, fishing and walking trails|
|North Bend||Susquehanna River (West Branch)||Cinton||Boat ramp and fishing|
|Isle of Que||Susquehanna River||Snyder||Boat ramp and fishing|
|Millersburg Borough Riverfront Park||Susquehanna River||Dauphin||Water view and walking trails|
|Quittie Creek Nature Park||Quittie Creek||Annville Township||Water view|
|Irvona Borough||Witmer Run||Clearfield||Water view and fishing|
|Chenango River Car-Top Access||Chenango River||Broome||Boating and fishing|
|Nanticoke Creek Fishermen Parking Lots||Nanticoke Creek||Broome||Fishing|
|West Branch Owego Creek||Owego Creek||Tompkins||Fishing|
|Concord Pond Access Area||Nanticoke River||Sussex||Canoe and kayak launch and bank fishing|
As development continues across the Chesapeake Bay watershed, demand for places that allow the public to reach the water remains high. State, federal and local governments are often the guardians of these places, providing opportunities for everyone to enjoy the region’s natural and cultural bounty. Because physical access to the Bay and its tributaries remains limited—with real consequences for quality of life, the economy and long-term conservation—Chesapeake Bay Program partners set a goal in 2010 to add 300 new public access sites to the watershed by 2025. As of 2013, partners have added 69 sites, meeting 23 percent of this goal.
Public access to open space and waterways can bolster public health and quality of life. It allows people to exercise, relax and recharge their spirits. It strengthens family bonds and nurtures fit, creative children. And it builds personal connections between people and the places that have shaped life in the region for centuries. This has a distinct economic and environmental value, too, as it boosts tourism and creates citizen stewards who share feelings of responsibility toward the Bay and its many resources.
“We hear a lot of support for creating more access for the public to enjoy the waters of the Chesapeake and its rivers. We look forward to continuing to work with partners across the watershed to develop more access and improve our quality of life.”
--- Chuck Hunt, Superintendent, National Park Service Chesapeake Bay Office
“Having public access to enjoy and learn about the value of nature is important. I believe that you value what you know, and you are motivated to protect what you value. Whether it’s a relaxing trip along a shoreline or a paddle on a pond or stream, when more people get to know and value the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers and streams, more people will be driven to protect it.”
--- Nick DiPasquale, Director, Chesapeake Bay Program