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Thirty-six new public access sites opened along Chesapeake rivers and streams

Chesapeake Bay Program partners work to put more people in touch with the water

Annapolis, MD (May 22, 2014)

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.


Site Water Body County Description
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


Site Water Body County Description
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


Site Water Body County Description
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 

New York 

Site Water Body County Description
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 


Site Water Body County Description
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

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