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Recreation Model

map of Virginia ConservationVision recreation model


The Virginia Recreation Model was developed in an effort to map the existing public recreation lands in Virginia that are owned or managed by Federal, State, or Local Governments. As development pressure continues across the state, the need for natural resource based recreation areas will increase. The development of a GIS model to delineate where recreational opportunities currently exist may serve as a guide to local government, consultants, and developers in planning for and acquiring property for recreational use. The model also serves as part of a larger green infrastructure plan, which aims to model where Virginia 's conservation priorities are located to facilitate an integrated approach to planning and development. For information on the Virginia ConservationVision and the Green Infrastructure Modeling effort, please visit the Virginia ConservationVision website at http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural-heritage/vaconvision.

The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation Division of Natural Heritage (DCR -DNH) partnered with the Department of Conservation and Recreation Division of Planning and Recreation Resources (DCR-PRR) and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VADGIF) in the development of the Recreation Model model.

The statewide Virginia Recreation model includes the following datasets:

  • Public Beaches - The Virginia Outdoors Plan defines beach as a strip of sand or gravel along the shore separating land from water. Statewide beach inventory shows approximately 2047 acres of beach available for pubic access.
  • Public Hunting Areas - Areas open to the public for hunting activities.
  • Public Boating Access - Areas open to the public for boat launching. Some access points are boat ramps while others are canoe/kayak launches.
  • Federal, State, and Local Parks.
  • Managed Trails - trails managed by federal state or local entities that are open to the public.
  • Virginia Scenic Byways - The Virginia Outdoors Plan describes Virginia Byways as state designated roadways that recognize the beauty and cultural legacy of the local region through which they pass.
  • Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trails - VADGIF describes the VA Birding and Wildlife Trail System as the first statewide program of its kind in the United States. In Virginia, three phases of the trail link wildlife viewing sites throughout the state.
  • Conserved Lands - State Natural Area Preserves, State Wildlife Management Areas, State Forests , Army Corps of Engineer Lands, National Forests, State and National Wildlife Refuges, Military Lands, Miscellaneous Government Lands contained in the DNH Conservation Lands Database (from DCR-DNH's conservation lands database see http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural-heritage/clinfo).
  • Water Resources - Navigable Waters, Scenic Rivers, Public Fishing Lakes, Trout Streams, Tidal Waters (as part of the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program)

It is important the end user realize the recreation model represents existing publicly managed recreational lands in Virginia, and does not represent legal boundary delineations. The model serves to provide an overview of recreational opportunities throughout the Virginia landscape as defined by the absence / presence of publicly managed recreational properties.

To access the Virginia Recreation Model Technical Report, click here.

Application of the Recreation Model

Some general categories of uses to which the recreation model data can be applied include:

  • Targeting - to identify areas of high recreational value.
  • Prioritizing - to provide primary or additional justification for key conservation land purchases and other protection activities.
  • Local planning - guidance for comprehensive planning and local ordinance and zoning development.
  • Assessment - to review proposed projects for potential impacts.
  • Land management - to guide property owners and public and private land managers in making land management decisions, particularly highlighting the relationship between land value and open space / recreation areas.
  • Public education - to inform the citizenry about the importance of Virginia's recreational lands.


Maps were produced for the entire Coastal Zone and the Planning District Commissions and included as part of the final report. The report is available online (see above) and on CD by request and include:

  • Maps
  • Methodology
  • Metadata
  • An ArcGIS geodatabase, shapefiles, and/or ArcINFO Grids recreation data.

Data Download

For more information about the Recreation Model, please contact Jason Bulluck at jason.bulluck@dcr.virginia.gov or 804-786-8377.

NatureServe Landscape logo
LandScope provides Virginia ConservationVision models in an interactive map, to explore in the context of many other state, regional and national conservation priorities and reference maps. Virginia DCR-Natural Heritage is an active partner with NatureServe and other partners in the development and maintenance of Landscope Virginia, Landscope Chesapeake and LandScope America.

Page last updated 2/11.