RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam and members of his administration will celebrate Public Lands Week, which begins with National Public Lands Day on Saturday, September 22. Established in 1993 as a day of volunteer service to help restore the country’s public lands, this year marks the 25th Anniversary of National Public Lands Day. The celebration will conclude on Sunday, September 29 with the 2nd annual Virginia Public Lands Day, showcasing the public lands of Virginia and honoring the Commonwealth’s natural heritage.
To highlight the importance of Virginia’s public lands, Governor Northam and First Lady Pamela Northam will visit Pocahontas State Park in Chesterfield on Sunday, September 23 where they will tour the park and present a proclamation recognizing Public Lands Week in Virginia. Governor Northam will also visit First Landing State Park in Virginia Beach on Friday, September 28.
“Public lands represent the best of Virginia. They celebrate our history, our biodiversity and provide countless outdoor recreation opportunities for all Virginians to enjoy,” said Governor Northam. “My administration is committed to protecting and expanding access to public lands across the state to continue to improve quality of life, promote shared stewardship, and grow the tourism and recreational economy of the Commonwealth.”
Virginia’s public lands include state, local, and national parks, forests, nature centers, wilderness and wildlife management areas, waterways, wetlands, community gardens, historical sites, and other types of land—providing residents and visitors with opportunities to explore nature, help protect and preserve our diverse natural resources, and contribute to the state’s economic vitality.
“Public Lands Week is an ideal time to celebrate Virginia’s cherished natural and historic sites that are available to all Virginians and visitors from around the world,” said Secretary of Natural Resources Matthew Strickler. “Whether you love to hunt and fish, bird watch, mountain bike or simply take a walk with family and friends, Virginia’s public lands provide countless opportunities for recreation. We hope that people across the Commonwealth will enjoy our public lands year round, and especially during Public Lands Week.”
The Commonwealth is home to 37 Virginia State Parks covering 73,000 acres with three under development offering 651 miles of trails, with convenient access to boating, fishing, and swimming, and 22 National Park System Units.
Virginia’s 63 Natural Area Preserves cover 56,661 acres and harbor over 750 exemplary natural community and rare species locations and provide hiking and water access. The Virginia Department of Forestry manages 24 State Forests that total 68,858 acres across the Commonwealth, offering 377 miles of recreational trails, and lakes and rivers that provide opportunities for fishing swimming, and paddling. The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries 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 wildlife viewing. In addition, local governments provide over 850 neighborhood and local parks covering more than 79,000 acres across Virginia.
Throughout the week, members of the administration will make a series of visits around the Commonwealth to help showcase Virginia’s public lands, promote the accessibility of environmental learning and highlight efforts to protect and restore Virginia’s natural and historic resources. Visits will include:
- Secretary Strickler and Deputy Secretary Saks will visit Presquile National Wildlife Refuge in Henrico, home to the James River Ecology School.
- Secretary Strickler will chair the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation Board of Trustees meeting.
- Secretary Strickler and Deputy Secretary Saks will tour the Brandy Station and Cedar Mountain Battlefields.
A complete list of programs at Virginia State Parks during Public Lands Week is available here.
Governor Northam issued a proclamation recognizing Public Lands Week in Virginia. Read the full proclamation here.