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Media inquiries: Please contact Julie Buchanan, julie.buchanan@dcr.virginia.gov, 804-786-2292.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Issued by the Office of the Governor
Date: November 30, 2001
Contact: Jim Meisner Jr., DCR Public Relations Specialist, (804) 786-8442, jim.meisner@dcr.virginia.gov

Virginia State Parks named best in the nation

RICHMOND - Governor Jim Gilmore today announced that Virginia's state park system has been recognized for excellence in park management as the National Gold Medal and State Park Award winner, an award presented by the National Sporting Goods Association's Sports Foundation, Inc. in cooperation with the National Recreation and Park Association. Dixie Sporting Goods Co. of Richmond nominated the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, which manages Virginia's state parks.

"This national recognition verifies what Virginians have known for years -- that our state parks are among the best in the country," said Governor Gilmore. "This recognition from such a prestigious association will help showcase our state parks as an attractive destination for Virginians and visiting tourists."

The National Sporting Goods Association is the world's largest sporting goods trade association, representing more than 22,000 retailer/dealer outlets and 3,000 suppliers, product manufacturers and sales agents. Its sports foundation began the gold medal awards in 1965 and added a state parks category in 1997. The National Gold Medal and State Park Award is given in odd-numbered years to honor the nation's outstanding state park system for excellence in the field of park and recreation management and their contributions in providing park, recreation and leisure services to the citizens of their state.

"In managing Virginia's state parks, we have remained true to the original vision established in the 1930s, " said DCR Director David Brickley. "We've done this by actively managing our natural resources, retaining the natural beauty of our parks and complementing that beauty by incorporating modern improvements like central air and heat in cabins and state-of-the-art environmental education centers. Our state parks have benefited from the combined expertise of our department staff in areas such as open space and recreational planning, the use of conservation best management practices, natural heritage resource management and even dam management."

Six Virginia state parks opened June 15, 1936, making Virginia the first state in the United States to dedicate all of its parks on the same day. Many of those facilities have been restored and are still in use today.

"Hundreds of DCR employees and countless volunteers dedicated tens of thousands of hours of hard work over 65 years to make Virginia state parks the best in the nation," said DCR State Parks Director Joe Elton. "Virginia now joins an elite list of state park systems honored with the Gold Medal."

A finalist two years ago, Virginia joins the 1999 winner, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Recreation and Parks, and 1997's winner, the Ohio Division of Parks and Recreation.

For more information about Virginia state parks' activities and amenities or to make reservations, call the Virginia State Parks Reservation Center at 1-800-933-PARK or visit the DCR web site at www.dcr.virginia.gov.

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