ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Maryland officials on Monday released a draft plan to create a unified Chesapeake National Recreation Area.

U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen and Congressman John Sarbanes were joined by other state and local officials at Burtis House in Annapolis. There, they released a draft legislation that would unite a series of parks, visitor centers, and other iconic Bay area locations to create a unified national recreation area.

“After years of work with our committed partners who treasure the Bay and its bounty, we are proud to present a proposal that will spotlight its unique story and historical significance, generate more prosperity for those who make their livelihood from it, leverage more federal investment, and encourage greater public access [for the] Bay’s beauty and cultural landmarks.” said Senator Van Hollen.

The legislation would provide more federal resources to the watershed region to celebrate its diverse cultural and economic history, conserve the environment, and foster public access to the Chesapeake Bay while spurring economic growth.

“The Chesapeake National Recreation Area will elevate the collective consciousness and appreciation [for] the Chesapeake Bay. By combining sites that embody what the Bay means to Marylanders, our region and our country with the expertise of the National Parks Service, this project will direct more resources to the Bay, improve public access and promote environmental stewardship.” said Congressman Sarbanes.

Along with the draft release, the lawmakers announced a public comment period on the draft text for 90 days that would allow community members to share comments and input on the plan.

"One of the main goals of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement is increasing public access to the Bay's resources. The draft legislation being announced today would help do just that," said U.S. Senator Ben Cardin.

The lawmakers are now accepting public comment on the proposed Chesapeake National Recreation Area legislation map. Those interested in more closely reviewing and providing feedback can do so at:

Opening of the public comment period on the draft text will encourage community members to share their thoughts and input on the plan. The comment period will remain open for 90 days to ensure robust public engagement.