New National Monument Declared; Site of Previous TPL Study

The Trust for Public Land today praised the decision by President Obama to designate Fort Monroe in Virginia as a national monument as part of the implementation of the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative.

“Fort Monroe is an outstanding national resource and is a wonderful convergence of environmental, military, historical, and political issues in a singular point of land,” said Will Rogers, President of The Trust for Public Land. “We congratulate President Obama for deciding to protect it as a national monument. This will be great for the Hampton Roads region and for the nation as a whole, and The Trust for Public Land is pleased to have helped make the case for this new park.”

Obama’s declaration means that just over half the 570-acre site will be protected by the National Park Service, including the Virginia Tidewater region’s main fortress and moat, along with access to beaches a large amount of open space. Built in the early 1800s, Fort Monroe is the third-oldest Army post still in continuous active service.

In September, 2007, based on an earlier research project in nearby Norfolk, Va., The Trust for Public Land’s Center for City Park Excellence was approached by a local group, the Committee for a Fort Monroe National Park. The committee wanted an evaluation of where the city of Hampton, which includes Fort Monroe, and the entire Hampton Roads region ranked in park land, compared to other areas of the country.

In a 2008 report, the Center for City Park Excellence found Hampton and three nearby cities – Norfolk, Portsmouth and Newport News – are below average in parks, compared to similar cities across the country. This is true when measured both on a per-capita basis and as a proportion of the size of the city. Of the five local cities, only Virginia Beach ranks above the national average in parkland.

“Not only will Fort Monroe stand as a unique park for the entire nation,” said Peter Harnik, director of the Center, “it will also serve to increase the park acreage of the underserved city of Hampton and its neighboring communities.”

The report, entitled Bracing for Change: Fort Monroe and the Need for Parkland in Hampton Roads, is available for download from The Trust for Public Land website.