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DCNR official attends designation of Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail
Joined by DCNR Deputy Secretary John Giordano, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and other leaders in a ceremony at Maryland’s Sandy Point State Park, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar designated four water trails as new historic connecting components of the existing Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail.

The May 16 designation recognizes the significance of four connecting rivers -- the Susquehanna, Chester, Upper Nanticoke and Upper James Rivers—to the history, cultural heritage, and natural resources of the 3,000-mile-long national historic trail in the Chesapeake Bay. The new river connecting trails are found in Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

“These river trails, totaling 841 miles in length, are closely associated with John Smith’s exploration of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, including the American Indian towns and cultures of the 17th-century Chesapeake that he encountered,” said Salazar. “Incorporating these river segments into the national historic trail will increase public access, provide important recreation and tourism opportunities, and enrich exploration of the water routes in the entire Chesapeake watershed.”


The Susquehanna River and three other water trails were designated new historic connecting components of the existing Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail in May 16 ceremonies. Participating were, from left, DCNR Deputy Secretary John Giordano, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett had expressed “strong support” for establishment of the Susquehanna River Connecting Trail, noting its “great potential to integrate both economic development and recreational objectives in a way that protects our vital cultural heritage.”

“The trail also has strong potential to increase recreation-related business along the entire length of the river,” said the governor in a March 2011 letter to Salazar supporting the designation.

Designation of trail components of the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail will enable the National Park Service, which administers the national trail, to work closely with state and local agencies and other partners--notably conservation and tribal organizations--to provide technical and financial assistance, resource management, facility enhancement, interpretive trail route marking and promotion along the connecting trails.

Congress authorized the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail in 2006 as “a series of water routes extending approximately 3,000 miles along the Chesapeake Bay and the tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay.” Salazar used his authority under the National Trails System Act to designate the connecting rivers as part of the national trail with the support of the five states.

“By linking our extraordinary landscapes and waterways to our country's history, the Captain John Smith National Historic Trail will support jobs and local economies across the region while providing unique opportunities for visitors to explore our cultural heritage while enjoying our natural resources,” said Gov. O'Malley.

The Chesapeake Conservancy funded and managed a professional evaluation of Chesapeake Bay tributaries to determine their potential for designation as historic connecting components to the Captain John Smith trail. Research teams included historians, tribal representatives and regional universities.

Based on the study’s findings, the Chesapeake Conservancy worked with local watershed, tribal and water trail groups and state agencies to develop applications to the National Park Service to nominate the four rivers as connecting trail components.

Each of the nominations was supported by the governors of the five states through which the connecting trails pass, and by local groups, including American Indian tribes and descendant communities.

Designated were the following historic connecting rivers:

  • Susquehanna River Component Connecting Trail: a 552-mile system of water trails along the main stem and West Branch of the Susquehanna River in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New York. Sections of the trail are managed by a variety of organizations and agencies, all of which support the component connecting designation. Overall coordination of the component is provided by the Susquehanna Greenway Partnership. The southern end of this trail links directly with the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail at Conowingo, Maryland.
  • Chester River Component Connecting Trail: a 46-mile system of the Chester River and its major tributaries. The trail connects to the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail at its mouth just south of Rock Hall, Maryland. This connecting component is managed by Sultana Projects of Chestertown, Maryland, in close consultation with the State of Maryland.
  • Upper Nanticoke River Component Connecting Trail: an existing state water trail managed by the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) along approximately 23 miles of the Nanticoke River, Broad Creek and Deep Creek. The western end of this trial links directly with the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail.
  • Upper James River Component Connecting Trail: a 220-mile water trail that crosses nine counties and connects to the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail at the Falls of the James in Richmond, Va.. it is managed by by the James River Association.
For more information about the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail, contact John Maounis, Superintendent, at 410-260-2471 or john_maounis@nps.gov. For details on the Susquehanna River Connecting Trail contact Trish Carothers at 570-522-7259 or tcarothers@susquehannagreenway.org.


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May 23, 2012

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