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McAuliffe affirms Virginia’s commitment to river, Chesapeake Bay public access

virginia-newGovernor Terry McAuliffe today joined officials from the National Park Service and the Chesapeake Conservancy, as well as local and state partners, on the banks of the Potomac River at Caledon State Park in King George County to affirm Virginia’s commitment to increasing public access to rivers and the Chesapeake Bay.

“Protecting the health and vitality of Virginia’s waterways and promoting their use means we can connect people from all over the world with our Commonwealth’s natural resources and grow our economy as well,” said Governor McAuliffe.“My team and I want to continue to provide Virginia’s residents and visitors more places to swim, fish, put in a canoe and just be in nature. By partnering with the National Park Service, the Chesapeake Conservancy and others to increase access to our waterways in the Chesapeake Bay region, Virginia will create opportunities for more people to enjoy and appreciate the countless natural, cultural and historic treasures found here.”

The Commonwealth of Virginia and the National Park Service have agreed to a memorandum of understanding to advance mutual commitments to the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail and the Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail. A focus of the trails is to bring to the region new opportunities for public access, recreation, education and heritage tourism.

Today’s event at Caledon State Park dedicated a new canoe-in campground enabling paddlers to rest or stay overnight in a primitive campsite. Development of the campground was a collaborative effort among the National Park Service, the Chesapeake Conservancy, and the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, which manages Virginia state parks.

“Development of this canoe-in site increases people’s access to the river and to one of the country’s most significant summering spots for bald eagles,” said Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward. “This contributes to both the state park’s and the trails’ goals of allowing visitors to experience this area’s unique natural treasures.”

Canoe-in campgrounds were identified as a key need during development of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Public Access Plan. The plan, which calls for adding 300 new public access sites in the bay watershed by 2025, is part of the broad federal, state and nongovernmental strategy to protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay.

Members of Virginia’s Youth Conservation Corps built the campground with financial support from the National Park Service. Each campsite measures 20 feet by 30 feet and offers a picnic table, fire ring and lantern post.

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