Loudoun to house its first Virginia state park
The yet-to-be-named state park will be Loudoun's first.
“This is an exciting development that will benefit Virginians and visitors to Virginia forever,” Virginia Secretary of Natural Resource Doug Domenech said in prepared remarks. “Having lived in Loudoun County for 16 years, I know firsthand how important this park will be to many individuals, organizations, and officials in Loudoun County.”
The land was first donated to the Old Dominion Land Conservancy from Bob and Dee Leggett's Leggett Foundation. Now, the conservancy is handing over the property to the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation for the creation of the park.
The land includes “historic farmsteads, deep woods and wildflower meadows and borders the Appalachian Trail,” according to the governor's office.
“From a historical perspective alone," Loudoun County Supervisor Geary Higgins (R-Catoctin) said, "Gov. McDonnell has preserved a considerable piece of history as this land includes the route Mosby’s Rangers took to attack the federal camp of Cole’s Cavalry 150 years ago on Jan. 10, 1864. I commend Governor McDonnell and Secretary Domenech for the foresight to create this park that will be enjoyed not only by residents of Loudoun County but by many future generations.”
Higgins, who represents the area of the forthcoming park, said it will be “a jewel to Loudoun County, the Commonwealth of Virginia and the nation.” The county supervisor was joined by state lawmakers Del. Randy Minchew (R-10th) and Sen. Dick Black (R-13th) in drawing up the property deal.
The Old Dominion Land Conservancy has signed agreements with the commonwealth to donate the land for use as a state park. The transaction giving Virginia final ownership of the property is expected to close later this year.
The 600-acre parcel announced Jan. 10, a portion of which is part of the 900-acre Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship, is the initial segment of a 1,500-acre park vision, according to Higgins' office.
A Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation spokesman, Gary Haugh, said it will be several years before the property is developed as a state park. His department, which manages the Virginia park system, will work to develop master plans for the Loudoun County property once acquisition is complete. The composition of the master plan will incorporate input from the local community, park planners and state officials, Haugh said.
The western Loudoun property, following the final acquisition steps, will join state lands in Stafford, Shenandoah, Gloucester, Henry and Albemarle counties in various stages of development as future state parks, according to Haugh.
State officials, in the announcement, highlighted the economic perks of state parks, noting they help local economies generate more than $12 for every $1 of general fund dollars allocated to state parks in the state budget.