A new network of “gateway” sites around the Bay should make the Chesapeake more accessible to everyone from history buffs to small-boat enthusiasts.
We’re always up for finding new and different ways of seeing the Chesapeake and its tributaries, and now it seems the National Park Service is going to help us out. This summer, the NPS gave matching grants to 23 sites within the Bay watershed and made them part of the fledgling Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network.
Authorized by the Chesapeake Bay Initiative Act of 1998, the Gateways program hopes to make the Bay and its tributaries, history and ecology more accessible to people. The program is putting the “gateway” label on a variety of special places within the Bay watershed, including parks, maritime museums, kayak and canoe trails, wildlife refuges and beaches.
Among the 23 sites named in June is the Barge House Museum in Annapolis, which received a $10,000 grant to build a dinghy and kayak landing along Back Creek right next to the museum. The money also will be used to create an outdoor exhibit of longtime local waterman Herb Sadler’s workboat Little Hes, according to Mike Miron of the Eastport Historical Committee.
The Mariners’ Museum in Newport News, Va., received an $8,000 grant to develop a traveling exhibition about African Americans and their ties to the Chesapeake Bay. And the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Md., was named the first gateway “hub” in the Chesapeake network. It will develop a variety of exhibits at its visitor’s center and at the Talbot County Visitors Center in Easton, Md.
Other sites named as gateways were Anacostia Community Park in Washington, D.C., where local residents will use the grant to build a park along the river; the Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum in St. Leonard, Md., to preserve and interpret 544 acres along the Patuxent River that include the sites of pivotal battles during the War of 1812; and the Sturgis Memorial Gateway at Snow Hill, Md., to provide access to the Pocomoke River for canoes, kayaks and fishing boats.
The Choptank and Tuckahoe rivers water trail received a grant to develop a 60-mile canoe path, and Dutch Gap Conservation Area in Chesterfield County, Va., is a gateway comprising an 810-acre preserve along the James River. The preserve includes the site of Henricus, the second successful English settlement in Virginia.
These sites are only the beginning of the entire Bay network. The park service and the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network will continue to add other places, as long as Congress continues to supply the matching grants. Officials plan to offer a network map, guide and website by next year. For more information about the Gateways Network or to submit a site for consideration, contact Jonathan Doherty of the Chesapeake Bay Program at 800-YOUR-BAY or www.chesapeakebay.net/gateways.htm.