Olszewski: Chesapeake Bay should be treated as national treasure | READER COMMENTARY

Reed Perry of the Chesapeake Conservancy shows off a t-shirt for the Chesapeake National Recreation Area during a news conference in Annapolis.

The Chesapeake Bay has shaped the Baltimore region’s culture and economy for generations. I, along with countless others, have enjoyed its beauty and bounty for my entire life.

While the Bay is a vital part of Maryland’s rich history, it is also vital to our shared future. In Baltimore County, we proudly support the recent efforts from U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen and U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes (“Van Hollen, Sarbanes introduce legislation to create Chesapeake National Recreation Area,” July 28) to take action to formally establish a Chesapeake National Recreation Area.


Our residents and neighbors have long taken pride in preserving, exploring and celebrating the parks, waterways and open spaces that make the entire Chesapeake region unique. Improving our parks and expanding access to them has long been a priority for us in Baltimore County.

Since taking office, I am proud to have dedicated more than $210 million in local funding toward creating and enhancing these recreation amenities. While this investment represents a 155% increase in prior local spending, more needs to be done — especially for those sites connected to the Chesapeake. This new effort to establish a Chesapeake National Recreation Area as a unit of the National Park Service proposes to bring an array of new resources, staff and programs that will enrich our region for years to come.


As a former social studies teacher, I am also keenly aware of the ways in which the Chesapeake region is an essential part of American history. In addition to much-welcomed new resources, passage of this legislation will send a clear message that our historical and cultural sites, structures and stories deserve to be cherished, preserved, and shared.

For these reasons and more, I am proud to fully support the Chesapeake National Recreation Area Act. On behalf of the residents of Baltimore County, I applaud the tireless efforts of Senator Van Hollen and Congressman Sarbanes to preserve and promote the natural and recreational amenities which make Baltimore County and the entire Chesapeake Region the national treasure we all know it is.

— John “Johnny O” Olszewski Jr., Towson

The writer, a Democrat, is Baltimore County executive.

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