Programs & Responsibilities

The NPS Chesapeake Bay Office manages the following trails and programs:

Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail

The Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail (John Smith Trail) com- memorates the voyages of Captain John Smith and his crew as they explored the Chesapeake Bay between 1607 and 1609. America’s first national water trail, the 2,000-mile John Smith Trail was established in 2006 in close coordination with the Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network. The trail traces Smith’s routes and the key rivers linked to them, helping visitors imagine the world he encoun- tered more than four hundred years ago.

Visitors enjoy intimate surroundings and scenic vistas reminiscent of the Chesa- peake region in the 1600s, including coves and marshes, ribbon-like tributaries, and secluded woodlands. They learn about the American Indians who interacted with Smith and the ways in which this critical contact period forever changed the Chesapeake region and the people who have called it home. Visitor opportunities along the trail continue to grow. In addition to managing and operating the John Smith Trail, the NPS Chesapeake Bay Office works with public and private partners to create more water trails and shoreline recreation sites, protect historic areas, and create exhibits and educational programs.

Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network

The Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network (Gateways Network), es- tablished through the Chesapeake Bay Initiative Act of 1998, is an extensive part- nership system of over 170 of the Chesapeake Bay’s special places and 3,000 miles of designated water trails. These parks, refuges, maritime museums, historic sites, and water trails each tell the story of the way that water, place, nature, and people have been connected over time. The primary goals of the Gateways Network are to connect people with the region’s resources, enhance public access, and foster citizen stewardship of the Chesapeake. While the Gateways Network has evolved over time, the NPS Chesapeake Bay Office has always played the core, integrating role, coordinating overall communications and linkages. Partners have successfully leveraged their participation in the Gateways Network to increase visitation; to improve the quality of their work; and to attract volunteers, funding, and other support.

The two trails and the network share geography, resources, and partner sites com- plementing one another to address multiple themes and values. The intentional administration of the trails and network through the Chesapeake Bay Office pro- vides many opportunities for efficiencies in developing the full range of programs supporting these entities: communications, interpretation, education, youth en- gagement, access development, management, and conservation. The Chesapeake Bay Office works closely with many partners to provide technical and financial as- sistance that enhances, expands, and promotes visitor offerings at locations along the trails and the network.

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