In 2009, President Obama signed Executive Order 13508 declaring the Chesapeake Bay “a national treasure” and recognizing the nationally significant assets of the watershed in the form of “public lands, facilities, military installations, parks, forests, wildlife refuges, monuments, and museums.” The order called for a strategy for protecting and restoring the Chesapeake, including advancing land conservation and increasing public access along the Bay and its tributaries.
A group of conservation partners, now called the Chesapeake Conservation Partnership, assembled in 2009 at the Annapolis Maritime Museum for a one‐day workshop convened by the National Park Service. Some fifty representatives of state and federal agencies and non‐ governmental organizations developed a series of specific recommendations for furthering land conservation and public access in the watershed, which formed the basis of the report Land Conservation and Public Access in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed (2009). The group met several times in early 2010 to advise the recommended actions and draft goals of protecting an additional two million acres and adding 300 public access sites by 2025. The Strategy for Protecting and Restoring the Chesapeake Bay Watershed (2010) included these defined goals and was issued in response to EO 13508.
Since then, the Chesapeake Conservation Partnership has met repeatedly to advance collaborative efforts, recommend policy options, and share best practices. In 2010 they convened at North Point State Park to create action teams for the following three priority areas: advancing public access, developing a watershed‐wide land conservation priority system, and stimulating conservation corps growth. These teams continue their work today.
Annual meetings since then have formed an increasingly robust partnership, adding working groups, setting out priorities, establishing an organizational framework and more. In June 2014, the Partnership’s land conservation and public access goals were adopted into a new Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement—signed by the governors of six states, the federal government, District of Columbia and the Chesapeake Bay Commission—setting an agenda for 2025.