Virginia Public Lands Day
Virginia Public Lands Day
Saturday, September 30th, 2017
Virginia’s United Land Trusts in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, Northern Virginia Conservation Trust, The Piedmont Environmental Council, Potomac Conservancy, Trust for Public Land, and other organizations across the state will be celebrating the newly established Virginia Public Lands Day on Saturday, September 30th.
We hope your organization will help promote the value of Virginia Public Lands through social media, by attending an event, or organizing an event. The Department of Conservation and Recreation has organized fantastic events at every state park, and a number of land trusts are also planning events. Here is a complete listing.
Virginia Public Lands
From the smallest city-owned greens space to the largest federal landholdings, publicly-owned lands play an important role in providing the building blocks for healthy watersheds, wildlife habitat, restoration of diminished species, and generating economic development and jobs. These precious public places across the landscape give Virginia communities their sense of place, scenic beauty, and protected cultural heritage. Here’s why public lands are so important to Virginia:
- More than nine in ten respondents to the Virginia Outdoors Plan Survey consider access to outdoor recreation to be very important or important.
- Ninety seven percent of sportsmen agree that protecting and conserving public lands for future generations is important.
- Virginia is home to 37 state parks offering thousands of campsites, hundreds of cabins, and more than 600 miles of trails, with convenient access to boating, fishing, and swimming.
- The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) manages 24 state forests that total 68,626 acres across the Commonwealth, ranging in size from 128 to 19,808 acres. State forests offer 77 miles of recreational trails; 81 miles of roads open to the public; 300 miles of controlled access trails for non-motorized use such as horseback riding, walking, or biking; and lakes and rivers that provide opportunities for fishing, and canoeing.
- The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) maintains 41 wildlife management areas, with more than 200,000 acres of land open to the public for wildlife-related recreational opportunities, including hunting, fishing, and trapping.
- The Public Access Lands for Sportsmen program has opened more than 30,000 acres of private land in Dickenson and Wise counties and 260 acres in James City County for public use.
- The Virginia Outdoors Foundation protects more than 50,000 acres of open space that allow public access for recreation and education, including 60 miles of designated hiking and biking trails.
- Outdoor recreation activities in the Commonwealth generate $21.9 billion in consumer spending, support 197,000 direct jobs, and account for $6.5 billion in wages and salaries and $1.2 billion in state and local tax revenue.
Virginia’s public lands are a treasured resource and local, state, and federal funding is essential.
History of the day:
Virginia Public Lands Day was established by the 2017 General Assembly through HJ640. The last Saturday in September has been National Public Lands Day for more than 20 years.