Celebrate all of the recreational opportunities the Chesapeake Bay watershed offers

Celebrate all of the recreational opportunities the Chesapeake Bay watershed offers Download
Throughout the Chesapeake Bay Watershed ()

The sixth annual Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week will take place June 5-13, 2021. While this week has been officially designated in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia, events will take place throughout the entire watershed to raise awareness about this valuable economic and environmental resource—a national treasure that directly connects over 18 million residents.

With park visitation and outdoor activities reaching an all-time high in 2020, Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week 2021 will celebrate all the ways in which people can recreate in and around the Chesapeake Bay, and how those activities depend on clean and healthy waterways. This year’s activities—which can be found on the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Attend an Events calendar—include educational webinars, socially-distanced events and volunteer opportunities that celebrate the nation’s largest estuary. Check out some of the notable activities that will be held during the nine day celebration:

  • Clean the Bay Day: Join the Chesapeake Bay Foundation from May 31 to June 5 for a virtual version of this Virginia tradition! This annual event encourages families, businesses, and civic and church groups to get out and give back to local waterways.
  • Lancaster Water Week: Celebrate the unique waterways of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania through volunteer events, online courses and various outdoor activities from June 4-12.
  • Bernie Fowler Wade-In: Join former Senator Bernie Fowler and other dignitaries on June 5 as they wade into Otter Point Creek. Mr. Fowler started the “white sneaker” test as a means of checking water clarity. With a $5 entrance fee, the event will include live music and family-friendly entertainment.
  • Virginia Free Fishing Days: Enjoy a day of fishing with friends and family without having to purchase a fishing license from June 4-6.
  • Maryland Free Fishing Days: Participate in Maryland’s Free Fishing Days on June 5 and 12.
  • National Trails Day: Lace up your boots for a day of service and advocacy for local hiking trails on June 5. Promote your favorite outdoor spaces and pledge to take action in 2021 to care for trails, and advocate for equitable, safe access to quality green spaces.
  • The Bay is for Play! Recreation in the Watershed: The Chesapeake Bay Program will hold a webinar at 12:00 p.m. on June 8 to discuss all the ways one can recreate throughout the watershed.

This year’s theme highlights the various ways people spend their free time enjoying the Bay watershed. Each day will focus on a different category of recreation, including on the water, parks and trails, in your neighborhood, in your home, connecting with food, community science, museums and historic locations, and volunteering and community engagement. During these days, organizations, businesses, community groups and individuals can promote their interests and offerings as well as how they rely on clean water. To make it easier for these audiences to join in on the fun, the Chesapeake Bay Program has developed a social media tool kit that includes graphics, photos and sample social media posts for each of the nine days.

Follow #BayAwarenessWeek on social media during June 5-13 to join us in celebrating the recreational value of the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers.


In 2016, the Chesapeake Bay Commission, a tri-state legislative commission that advises members of the general assemblies of Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia on matters of Bay-wide concern, championed the idea of designating a week in June as Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week. The designation encourages all who reside in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia to commemorate Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week with events, activities and educational programs to acknowledge the significance of the Chesapeake Bay. The event is now hosted by the Chesapeake Bay Program.

In addition, many local governments in the region choose to officially proclaim and celebrate Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week. There are nearly 1,800 local governments in the Bay watershed, including towns, cities, counties and townships, and much of the important work to protect and restore the Bay and its tributaries happens at the local level.


Valued for its commercial and recreational value, the Chesapeake Bay is the nation’s largest estuary, whose 64,000 square mile watershed includes Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, Virginia and West Virginia.


“During Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week, we encourage everyone to take advantage of the many opportunities to enjoy nature and experience the wonders of the Bay watershed. Bay Program partners have been working hard to restore the Bay and local rivers, streams and lands that offer a variety of recreational choices.”

  • Michelle Price-Fay, Acting Director, Chesapeake Bay Program, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

“We’re fortunate to call the Chesapeake Bay watershed home. The Bay and its more than 100,000 streams, creeks and rivers—including the Anacostia and Potomac rivers—connect us to nature, agritourism and our neighbors, for endless fun. We’ll continue to work together toward healthier rivers, a healthier Bay and in turn, vibrant, healthier communities for all.”

  • Laurie-Anne Sayles, Chair, Chesapeake Bay and Water Resources Policy Committee, Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and Councilmember, City of Gaithersburg, Maryland

“Pennsylvania is a trail- and water-rich state that offers every type of outdoor recreation in all seasons, including in our share of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Of the 4,300 acres of land that DCNR grants helped protect in 2020, over 3,300 acres were in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Spending time in nature is critical to our well-being, and we continue efforts to make this experience available to all.”

  • Cindy Adams Dunn, Secretary, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

“Covid recovery and Chesapeake restoration go hand in hand. As we continue to strive for fishable and swimmable waters and healthy communities throughout our amazing Chesapeake Bay watershed, let’s never forget that environmental protection and stewardship open doors and windows for all to enjoy the precious natural resources around us.”

  • Ben Grumbles, Secretary, Department of the Environment, State of Maryland

“The National Park Service (NPS) Chesapeake Gateways is excited to celebrate 2021’s Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week and explore what makes recreation in the Chesapeake Bay watershed special. Whether at a Chesapeake Gateways site, in your backyard, at a local park, or virtually, there are plenty of ways to Find Your Chesapeake and connect with the cultural, natural and recreational heritage shared by all communities. While we continue to recover from the trauma of this past year, remember the outdoors is a great place for family, fun, play and enjoyment. Nature stands ready to heal us all and the NPS Chesapeake Gateways is committed to ensuring nature is accessible to all.”

  • Wendy O’Sullivan, Superintendent, National Park Service Chesapeake Bay Office

“I would venture a guess that where you choose to exhibit playfulness and find moments of joy is a very good clue to what you love. So I’ll go out on a limb and say that the collective message of activities ranging from the not-so-obvious (reading “Chesapeake” for the third time or being a fan of crab cakes), to the obvious (fishing and boating), and to the professional (protecting water resources) means that there is a lot of love for this very special watershed of ours. There is a lot of power in that love.”

  • Dr. Denice H. Wardrop, Executive Director, Chesapeake Research Consortium and Research Professor of Geography, Penn State University

"Our watershed is home to 18 million diverse voices who live, work and play in and around the Chesapeake Bay. Whether you can access the Chesapeake Bay directly, or whether you find yourself upstream on the lands that feed the Bay, we all have an opportunity to work together to improve the health of our home waters. Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week is the perfect opportunity to learn more, engage more deeply and welcome others to do the same. I hope you get out and enjoy all the bounty that the lands and waters of the Chesapeake provide to us."

  • Kate Fritz, Chief Executive Officer, Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay

“The Chesapeake Bay is a national treasure and its watershed has provided endless opportunities for recreation, relaxation and rejuvenation. The outdoors is a resource that everyone should be able to enjoy, which is why the Chesapeake Conservancy is committed to ensuring inclusive, equitable and accessible ways for all communities to find their Chesapeake. Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week is an opportunity to celebrate these ways to explore the Chesapeake Bay and highlight the importance of recreation in our region. We know that when people are able to experience the bounty of the Chesapeake Bay, that they’ll be more likely to protect it.”

  • Joel Dunn, President and CEO of Chesapeake Conservancy