In an era when park systems in many states are starved for cash, 17 of Virginia’s state parks are undergoing a massive overhaul, with new design and construction projects totaling $54.7 million.
In addition, the $119 million general-obligation bond approved by voters a year ago to improve the park system will also be used to buy land for at least three new state parks and to add land to 11 existing parks and construct 10 new natural areas. Improvements and repairs will also be made at each of the 34 state parks, according to the Times-Dispatch (Richmond). The state has 38 natural area preserves.
“When all is said and done, Virginia’s state parks and natural areas will be greatly enhanced,” said Joseph H. Maroon, director of the state Department of Conservation and Recreation.
Virginia’s state parks are visited by about 7 million people every year. Though exact sites have not been chosen, the three new state parks will be situated somewhere in the Middle Peninsula area of the state, in Shenandoah County and in the Augusta-Rockingham counties area, said park spokesman Gary Waugh.
Initial work has begun in the following state parks: Bear Creek, Belle Isle, Chippokes Plantation, Claytor Lake, Douthat, First Landing, Grayson Highlands, Hungry Mother, James River, Kiptopeke, Lake Anna, Leesylvania, New River Trail, Occoneechee, Pocahontas, Staunton River Battlefield and Wilderness Road.
Some of the major projects under way include:
*James River State Park in Buckingham County, where $6.7 million is budgeted to construct cabins, a visitor center and office building, campground and equestrian camping area.
*Lake Anna State Park in Spotsylvania County, where $5.4 million will be spent to build cabins and campgrounds. Ten cabins are under construction and will be open early next year.
*Pocahontas State Park in Chesterfield County, where $4.8 million will be used to expand the campground and build camping cabins, new parking areas and an equestrian center and camp.
*Chippokes Plantation State Park in Surry County, where $4.62 million will be used to renovate historic structures, replace the water system and expand the campground in anticipation of Jamestown’s 400th anniversary in 2007.
*Bear Creek Lake State park in Cumberland County, where $4.55 million has been budgeted for overnight cabins, a conference center and new picnic shelter.