DCR helps local parks and recreation departments through funding, expertise and training. Through this partnership, more than 50,000 acres have been purchased for parks and recreation in more than 400 parks around the state. Since 1967, the department has provided more than $72 million in state funds and channeled more than $61 million in federal funds to local parks. More than $300 million in local matching funds has been generated for local parks.
People usually think of parks as places for enjoyment. Actually, they're also economic necessities. In fact, tourism is Virginia's largest industry. The commonwealth's pleasant climate and outdoor recreational offerings entice business and industry to the state.
DCR provides policy and direction to the public and private sectors so they may better manage recreational resources, and outdoor and open spaces. For example, we promote the use of conservation land easements as a way landowners may protect their land's character. In a similar vein, DCR works with more than 60 localities as the lead agency in land use tax assessment for open space. Open space is further protected through programs enabling the department to accept philanthropic gifts of money, securities and other property.
DCR workers served on a team that wrote management plans for Virginia's two national forests. The forests provide about 1.6 million acres of open space, opportunities for recreation and biological diversity.
As well, DCR programs address scenic rivers, highways and byways. The agency's experience with local planners makes it a natural to help localities plan for greenways. Greenways are corridors of open space that connect recreational, cultural or natural areas. Be sure to check out the Virginia Tourism Corporation's John Smith Water Trail Map website to learn more about the captain's historic venture.