© Chesapeake Bay Program (Chesapeake)

Chesapeake Bay: Human Health


This map depicts areas within 30min drive time of water-related public access sites within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. It also depicts the average population served by each existing access site.  This information, along with other analyses, can help identify areas where additional public access capacity is needed to  provide “close to home” sources of outdoor recreation for the Chesapeake region’s population and to support the economic and cultural value of water-related recreation.

Data Layer Description


Chesapeake Conservation Partnership

What this data layer represents

This dataset shares important information about where communities have access to different public access sites within the watershed. This information may be useful in planning and supporting various collaborative conservation and recreation efforts.


Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.


The map depicts drive times to water-related public access sites related to the Chesapeake Conservation Partnership long-term human health conservation 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.”

The first component of the goal -- access to parks and trails -- will be addressed separately in the future. The goal identifies the importance of access to waterways throughout the watershed: water-related public access sites can be broken down by amenities available, including boat access, fishing, swimming, and trails along the water.  30min drive times were calculated from two types of public access sites throughout the watershed using Esri’s street data layer and Network Analyst: Public access sites with boating access, and public access sites with fishing, swimming, or viewing amenities.  Areas with overlapping public access sites with boating, fishing, swimming, or viewing amenities, and the average population served for each access site were also calculated and visualized.  

This map illustrates:

  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 or 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.

The map suggests two observations:

  1. The great majority of 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 may be warranted. Some access 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).

Further analysis on this subject is needed. Some of this analysis is currently limited by the adequacy of the existing public access dataset. For example, it does not include comprehensive information on: (a) the specific access facilities at each site; or (b) the capacity of the site to meet user needs (e.g. number of parking spaces). These are key to strategically assessing access needs.

How to get the data layer

Contact Jeff Allenby, Chesapeake Conservancy,

How to get more information

For more information about the Chesapeake Conservation Partnership contact: John Griffin, Program Manager,

For more information about mapping public water access in the Chesapeake Bay watershed contact: John Davy, Outdoor Recreation Planner, National Park Service,

Access and use constraints

Attribution No Derivatives (BY-ND)



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