Almost 2,400 square miles of the Chesapeake Bay, several smaller bays and estuaries, and Virginia's 115-mile Atlantic Coast have a total of more than 5,300 miles of shoreline. Collectively this represents one of the state's most important resources. It would seem that this abundance of water in the Bay and its major tributaries would provide more than adequate area to meet recreational demand. However, only one percent of the shoreline is publicly owned and available for public use. While commercial marinas provide the bulk of boating access facilities, there are still not enough access points, including those in the public sector, to meet the increasing demand. In June 2000, governors of the Bay states signed the 2000 Chesapeake Bay Agreement to improve the quality of the bay and its tidal tributaries. One of the agreement's major initiatives is improving public access to the tidal waters of the Bay. This commitment calls for a 30 percent increase in enhanced or new access sites, including boat ramps to the waters of the Bay region. This commitment will require substantial resources for the future improvement of water dependent and water-enhanced recreational opportunities. An integral component of that initiative was the 2000 Chesapeake Bay & Susquehanna River.
Public Access Guide, which contains maps and matrices showing the location of public access sites along with the facilities available at each. This map was updated in 2006 and distributed widely throughout the Bay states. This map serves as the baseline from which progress is measured in meeting access commitment.