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Media inquiries: Please contact Gary Waugh, gary.waugh@dcr.virginia.gov, 804-786-5045.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: October 17, 2002
Contact: Jim Meisner Jr., DCR Public Relations Specialist, (804) 786-8442, jim.meisner@dcr.virginia.gov

Parks, natural area bond would impact valley region

(RICHMOND) - Virginia's valley region would receive more than $5.8 million for land preservation and state park construction projects if voters pass a $119 million bond initiative on the ballot state-wide Nov. 5. Effects of the 2002 State Parks and Natural Areas Bond Act will be felt across the state.

"Passage of the state parks and natural areas bond would improve our quality of life by preserving open spaces and endangered natural areas, and provide safe and unique places for families to enjoy the outdoors," said Department of Conservation and Recreation Director Joseph H. Maroon. "Statewide the bond would provide for the acquisition of land for three new state parks, 10 new natural area preserves and finance repairs and improvements in each of the 34 state parks."

Regionally, passage of the bond would mean an infusion of money with bond funds proposed to acquire land for a new state park in the upper Shenandoah Valley. Also the bond would allow for land acquisition for a new natural area preserve in Augusta County, a new preserve in the region to protect Central Appalachian caves and additions to a natural area preserve in Rockingham County.

DCR will only work with willing sellers when negotiating land purchases, Maroon added.

Regional bond projects include:

Douthat State Park - One of the state's first parks, this facility in Bath and Alleghany counties was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s and is listed on the National Register of Historic Landmarks. Nearly $2.2 million is targeted for additional cabins and the construction of an equestrian camping area. With the development of new bridle trails through the national forest, the proximity to the Virginia Horse Center at Lexington, and private riding trails at the Homestead in Bath County, equestrian camping facilities are in great demand.

Natural Area Preserves

Augusta County Wetlands - A new natural area preserve is proposed for Augusta County to protect rare Shenandoah Valley natural ponds found only along the western flank of the Blue Ridge in Augusta and Rockingham counties. These natural wetlands, found nowhere else in the world, are highly threatened by drainage and conversion. Ponds here provide habitat for plants federally listed as threatened and state-listed as endangered.

Central Appalachian Caves - Though known to be extremely rich in caves, few are protected in Virginia. Many are biologically significant and contain unique subterranean species. A new natural area preserve in the mountains of western Virginia would begin to protect this resource.

Rockingham County Addition - An addition to an existing Rockingham County natural area preserve would protect a globally rare natural pond community in Augusta and Rockingham counties. Natural ponds are increasingly rare, and this area provides habitat for rare plants and animals.


Last year, seven million visitors to Virginia State Parks contributed approximately $144 million to the state's economy.

For more information about Virginia State Parks or the Parks and Natural Areas Bond, visit <www.dcr.virginia.gov/bond/>.

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