More than 1/3 of land protected by The Nature Conservancy in Virginia is now public land
Charlottesville, VA — In recognition of Virginia Public Lands Day on September 30, 2017, The Nature Conservancy is joining with state partners to cohost a series of special events all over Virginia, included guided hikes, paddle trips, and volunteer cleanups. The events will be held at Kiptopeke State Park, Nottoway River/Chub Sandhill Natural Area Preserve, Douthat State Park, and The Pinnacle Natural Area Preserve.
Approximately 3.7 million acres of land in Virginia – nearly 15% of the state – is managed for public benefit. That includes 37 state parks, 24 state forests, and 41 wildlife management areas featuring over 900 miles of trails and access to a wide range of outdoor activities. Outdoor recreation in Virginia is also a major economic engine, generating $21.9 billion in consumer spending every year. For all these reasons and more, the Virginia General Assembly has officially designated the last Saturday in September as Virginia Public Lands Day, which coincides with National Public Lands Day.
As one of the largest conservation organizations working in the state of Virginia, The Nature Conservancy has long made the protection of public lands one of its priorities. In fact, the Conservancy has had a role in the creation of more than 120,000 acres of public land in Virginia, much of it through land transferred to the state by the Conservancy. That adds up to more than 1/3 of the 346,000 total acres the Conservancy has protected in the commonwealth.
“As The Nature Conservancy strives to connect people and nature, we know firsthand how crucial public lands are to the economy and well-being of Virginia,” said Locke Ogens, Virginia State Director of the Conservancy. “That’s why I’m so proud of the role the Conservancy has played in protecting lands and making them available for public use in Virginia. Destinations like the Appalachian Trail, the Pinnacle Natural Area Preserve, and the Great Dismal Swamp give the public a chance to get outside, enjoy nature, and see how unique and beautiful Virginia is first-hand.”
The slate of events for September 30 include the following (See links for times, meeting locations, and to RSVP):
- The Pinnacle Natural Area Preserve – Interpretive Hike – Clinch Valley Program Director Brad Kreps will lead a hike through towering cliffs, limestone ledges, and waterfalls in a preserve that The Nature Conservancy helped establish over 20 year ago.
- Nottoway River & Chub Sandhills Natural Area Preserve – Paddle and Hike – Pinelands Program Director Brian Van Eerden will lead a gentle paddle down the scenic Nottoway River, followed by a hike to a stand of young longleaf pine trees; a species The Nature Conservancy is helping to restore in southeast Virginia.
- Kiptopeke State Park – Trail and Beach Cleanup – The Nature Conservancy is partnering with Kiptopeke State park for a day of beach/dune cleanup with park rangers offering on-site park guidance and activities in the afternoon.
- Douthat State Park – Interpretive Hike and Trail Cleanup – Join The Nature Conservancy and Douthat State Park rangers for a guided hike that will double as a volunteer trail cleanup.
Visitors and participants are also asked to share photos from their Virginia Public Lands Day trips on social media using the hashtag #VAPublicLands. For additional information on Virginia Public Lands Day events, visit the Virginia United Land Trusts at https://vaunitedlandtrusts.org/events/virginia-public-lands-day/.