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Make Chesapeake Bay a national park | READER COMMENTARY

Canadian geese and snow geese fly past frost covered trees at the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Dorchester County on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, on February 19, 2021. (Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images)
Canadian geese and snow geese fly past frost covered trees at the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Dorchester County on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, on February 19, 2021. (Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images)

I am writing in response to Christine Condon’s article, “Congressional working group to explore designating a Chesapeake National Recreation Area” (March 11). I applaud Sen. Chris Van Hollen and Rep. John Sarbanes’s leadership in forming a working group of Maryland and Virginia stakeholders to consider the establishment of a new unit of the National Park System dedicated to the Chesapeake Bay — a “Chesapeake National Recreation Area.”

The idea for a national park representing the Chesapeake Bay goes back decades, but it’s an idea whose time has come. The Bay is a national treasure, but public access to it is very limited. People in communities within just miles of the Chesapeake Bay lack meaningful opportunities to enjoy it. National parks connect the public to nationally significant natural, cultural and historic resources, but they also benefit local communities by attracting tourism dollars, enhancing quality of life for residents, attracting talent for local businesses and increasing property values.

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Outdoor recreation is booming in our region, and park visitation is skyrocketing. With this proposal for a Chesapeake National Recreation Area, we have a chance to create new parks, enhance existing parks and public access, and create a national park-worthy visitor experience in our region for all to enjoy. Thank you, Senator Van Hollen and Congressman Sarbanes, for leading this effort. We look forward to supporting this exciting proposal for the Chesapeake Bay.

Joel Dunn, Annapolis

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The writer is president and CEO of Chesapeake Conservancy.

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