“The world’s biggest gated community”

Published on July 29th, 2013

It’s so big that it can be seen from space – 11,684 miles of shimmering shoreline, equaling the distance of the entire West Coast, from Mexico to Canada. But in this boiling-hot summer, good luck trying to get your boat or your body into the refreshing waters of the Chesapeake Bay (in Maryland).

Only 2 percent of the bay has public access points for kayaks, canoes, fishing, bathing and other recreation. And some of those places are so packed with visitors on sunny weekends that motorists are forced to drive away or wait until someone leaves.

The development of farmland and sales of private homes, combined with the deterioration of aging public docks and ramps, have blocked access to the bay and its rivers and streams from the general public.

“I call it the world’s biggest gated community, the Chesapeake Bay. There are probably 100 beaches in Anne Arundel County, but they are private beaches,” said Mike Lofton, a retired economic development executive and an activist for bay access whose efforts helped open a public beach at Jack Creek Park, south of Annapolis, last week. “For the general Jack and Jill, there’s no other beach to go to.”

Realizing that lack of access would also turn people away from concerns about the health of the nation’s largest estuary and cradle for much of the Atlantic Ocean’s marine life, President Obama issued an executive order three years ago to build 300 access points by 2025 – to complement slightly more than a thousand that exist in the bay watershed – but progress is slow. – The Washington Post, read on

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