Land Purchased for New VA State Park

RICHMOND, VA, 9/23/2005 – Governor Mark R. Warner today announced the completion of a major first step in establishing a new state park on Virginia’s Middle Peninsula. The nonprofit Trust for Public Land (TPL), working on behalf of the Commonwealth of Virginia, has acquired 438 acres of property on the York River in Gloucester County for a future state park. The state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) is working with TPL to transfer the title and reimburse them for the $3.9 million cost of the property using general obligation bond funds.

The 2002 Parks and Natural Areas bond referendum called for acquisition of land for a state park on the Middle Peninsula. More than two-thirds of Virginia’s voters voted in favor of the bonds, which include $119 million in purchases and upgrades.

“This is a tremendous first step in acquiring property that has the potential to be a first-class state park,” said Governor Warner. “The Trust for Public Land was able to work with a willing landowner to expedite the sale and deliver this property to the people of Virginia. TPL has been a tremendous partner in this project.”

The property located in southern Gloucester County features three-quarters of a mile of frontage on the York River. The property is a mix of open fields and hardwood forests. It also joins a deep-water creek and features several marshlands.

“This is an outstanding property that will now be protected for future generations to enjoy,” said TPL Senior Project Manager Debi Osborne. “Assisting the state in taking ownership of this property for conservation purposes perpetuates our mission to conserve land for people.”

TPL is a national nonprofit land conservation organization that has acquired numerous properties in Virginia including Kiptopeke State Park, property in Shenandoah County to become part of a Shenandoah River state park, and seven properties in the Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge.

“Passage of the parks and natural areas bond package in 2002 was vitally important,” Governor Warner said. “This project, and additional ones still in the pipeline, will allow Virginians to have even more opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors. It improves our quality of life by preserving open spaces and endangered natural areas, and enhances the Commonwealth’s important tourism industry.”

This purchase follows a lengthy search for properties in the area bounded by the Rappahannock and York rivers. Gloucester, Matthews and Middlesex counties were included in the search area. The Gloucester County Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism, the Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission and the Middle Peninsula Land Trust were instrumental in bringing this property to the state’s attention.

There are no immediate plans to develop the property as a state park. The first step will be DCR’s development of a master plan for the park.

2002 Parks and Natural Areas Bond Package Status

The bond called for acquisition and development of three new state parks and 10 new natural areas, and additions to 11 parks and eight preserves.

The bond was needed primarily to help develop parks – Belle Isle, James River, Shenandoah River, Wilderness Road – purchased under a 1992 bond. It also provides greater outdoor recreation opportunities and enhances tourism and increases the economic benefits of parks to state and local economies.

The Trust for Public Land was part of a coalition of nonprofit organizations that supported the bond measure and activated email networks, sent direct mail to environmentally concerned voters, helped to produce television and radio advertisements and worked the polls on election day in support of the bond.

What did the bond provide?
? $119 million, approved by 69 percent of voters
? $36.5 million for land acquisition
? $4.5 million to prevent severe shoreline erosion at several parks
? $78 million for much needed construction, improvement, trails and repair projects throughout the park system