CHESAPEAKE BAY, Md. (WJZ) — It’s often called a national treasure, the largest estuary in our hemisphere.

The Chesapeake Bay brings in billions to our economy and is a large part of Maryland’s way of life.

“More and more people want to live in this area so we have to do even more to preserve it for the future,” said Sen. Ben Cardin, (D-Maryland).

A longtime advocate of the bay, Sen. Ben Cardin joined other state leaders for Earth Day in Annapolis- introducing legislation to reauthorize the Chesapeake Bay Gateway Program, while spotlighting clean water and healthy wildlife.

“The bay is very fragile, it does require extraordinary attention, it’s an amazing body of water but it doesn’t cleanse itself the way it used to,” Sen. Cardin said.

Leaders said the move will help the state better understand how the bay and river trials can work, while also putting a priority on establishing access to the water.

“We’ve got to get people out on the water again,” said Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley. “We want to get back to the place where it’s swimmable and fishable,”

Gov. Larry Hogan has said the bay is the healthiest its been in decades, thanks to commitments to conservation and climate action that has led by example.

With some of the state’s top leaders working together they feel this push is only the beginning.

“We got a team here who can use the power of government to make the Chesapeake Bay and environment number one,” Mayor Buckley said.

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Rick Ritter