Human Health- Public Access to Water

Our Goal

Provide people access to parks and trail networks within walking and biking distance of their homes and communities. Provide sufficient opportunities along waterways to ensure nearly all residents are within 30 minutes of reaching a public access site at water’s edge.

Rather than concentrating on acres to conserve, this goal drives us to identify gaps in access and fill them. Initially we have focused on public access to the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries -- a long-standing concern for residents of the watershed. We need to understand where access is limited. Our mapping evaluates two aspects of this:

  1. Areas within 30 minute drive time of public access sites along the water. It is segmented by areas within two groupings of access types: boating access and swimming, fishing and viewing access.
  2. Average population served. This depicts the average population size served by each access site. This indicates potential demand/capacity issues in certain areas.

Where We Stand

The map suggests two observations:

  1.  Most people living within a wide swath of land near the bay and its tributaries are within a 30 minute drive of one or more public access sites.
  2.  This does not mean that existing access sites within a 30 minute drive have the capacity to serve the nearby population. The color-codes of average population served by each access site suggest that sites in many areas serve a high number of people. This is a potential indicator of capacity issues and suggests strategic approach to access development is warranted. Some site managers report many sites routinely fill to capacity early on weekend days; this includes some “destination sites” in more rural areas (e.g. a number of state parks).

For more information and to explore this map further, please visit: http://www.landscope.org/chesapeake/Priorities/Health/