Virginia reaches goal to protect 1,000 natural, historic treasures

virginiaThe Commonwealth has reached its goal protecting 1,000 Virginia Treasures for the enjoyment of generations of Virginians and visitors to come. The milestone comes fewer than 18 months after the initiative launched to highlight important ecological, historic, scenic and recreational lands across the state. The announcement was made at a celebratory reception with the Secretariat of Natural Resources and associated agencies at the Executive Mansion in Richmond.

“In May 2015, we set out to identify and protect 1,000 Virginia Treasures before the end of my administration as a way of focusing our land conservation efforts on sites that offer the most value to the Virginia public. Today, we have accomplished that goal more than a year ahead of schedule,” Governor McAuliffe said, speaking at today’s announcement. “Thank you to the countless conservationists who work every day to protect our shared spaces and I look forward to seeing what we can accomplish in the next year and beyond. From our Eastern Shore to the Appalachian Mountains and everywhere in between, Virginia is worth treasuring.”

Virginia Treasures come in many forms. They can be ecologically significant lands protected with conservation or open-space easements, historic properties designated by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources or new projects that enhanced access to the Great Outdoors. Examples include the newly opened Natural Bridge State Park, the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries’ new Ware Creek Wildlife Management Area, as well as countless other natural areas, parks, and boat launches across the Commonwealth. To qualify, Virginia Treasures must have been protected, preserved, or opened to the public since January 2014.

“The Virginia Treasures Program offers a unique opportunity to celebrate the places that make our Commonwealth special,” said Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward. “We have received submissions from all sorts of groups, including land trusts, private landowners, nonprofit organizations, local governments, and state and federal agencies. It is incredibly inspiring to see the outpouring of support for this important initiative.”

Staff at the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation vet applications to ensure they meet established criteria. Submissions will continue to be accepted online at www.dcr.virginia.gov/virginia-treasures-application. Approved applicants receive a formal thank-you note from the Governor and have the opportunity to purchase a sign for their property.

The current distribution of Virginia Treasures by type:

  • Land Conservation: 455
  • Historic: 391
  • Recreation: 154

To view a complete list of Virginia Treasures, please visit www.dcr.virginia.gov/virginia-treasures-total.

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