Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network Reauthorization Act of 2019
STATEMENT OF P. DANIEL SMITH, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, EXERCISING THE AUTHORITY OF THE DIRECTOR, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE HOUSE NATURAL RESOURCES SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS, FORESTS, AND PUBLIC LANDS, CONCERNING H.R. 2427, A BILL TO AMEND THE CHESAPEAKE BAY INITIATIVE ACT OF 1998 TO REAUTHORIZE THE CHESAPEAKE BAY GATEWAYS AND WATERTRAILS NETWORK.
MAY 22, 2019
Chairwoman Haaland, Ranking Member Young, and members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you to present the views of the Department of the Interior on H.R. 2427, a bill to amend the Chesapeake Bay Initiative Act of 1998 to reauthorize the Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network.
The Department recognizes the contributions of the Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network (Network) to enhancing recreation, restoration, and education of the Chesapeake Bay. However, the FY 2020 President’s Budget request does not propose funding for this program. The Department is currently focusing resources on reducing the National Park Service’s $11.9 billion deferred maintenance backlog and addressing other critical national park needs.
H.R. 2427 would reauthorize the Network to receive $3,000,000 annually from fiscal 2020 through fiscal 2025. Under current law, the authorization for funding will expire at the end of fiscal 2019.
Authorized as part of the Chesapeake Bay Initiative Act of 1998 (Public Law 105-312), the Network includes 170 refuges, parks, historic sites, trails, and museums working together to foster citizen stewardship of the Chesapeake Bay across six states and the District of Columbia. Through this Act, Congress authorized the National Park Service, as coordinator of the Network, to provide technical and financial assistance in cooperation with other federal agencies, state and local governments, nonprofit organizations, and the private sector to create a network of Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails sites to enhance interpretation and public access to the Bay and rivers.
The Network has three main objectives: first, to educate people about the Chesapeake Bay and help them learn its stories through place-based interpretive education; second, to facilitate access to the Chesapeake Bay and Chesapeake Bay-related resources; and third, to foster conservation and restoration of the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers, stimulating public understanding of and involvement in stewardship. The Network hosts more than 10 million visitors annually. Through technical and financial assistance, the National Park Service has assisted the Gateways to develop hundreds of partnerships across the watershed to help people understand and appreciate the Chesapeake Bay.
If the Committee decides to act on this legislation, a technical correction is needed to the citation for the Chesapeake Bay Initiative Act of 1998. “Section 502(2)” should be “Section 502(c) and “16 U.S.C. 461 note” should be “54 U.S.C. 320101 note”.
Ms. Chairwoman, this concludes my statement. I would be pleased to answer any questions you or other members of the Subcommittee may have.