Legislation signed in 2010 directed DCR to establish a program to designate Virginia Cultural Heritage Sites. The first two sites were approved in June 2011. As others are approved, they will be added to an online directory. The sites will be compiled into an online directory. The purpose is to recognize commemorative and historic facilities and sites in Virginia that interpret significant aspects of national, state or regional culture or history.
The directory recognizes and promotes Virginia’s rich history and culture by identifying such sites and facilities. It also better enables the public to find them. To be included, properties must be open to the public or have a public interpretation role. The facilities don't need to be currently listed on a state or national register. Because the directory will be on DCR's website, which promotes Virginia's award-winning state parks, the directory will also help market the sites and facilities.
Historic structures managed by private or public entities for the enjoyment and education of the traveling public qualify. Sites such as museums, visitor centers and exhibits that expressly promote local, regional or national culture and heritage within Virginia also qualify. Properties owned or managed by the state, however, are ineligible.
While the goal is to create an inclusive and comprehensive directory, some elements of the approval process are designed to prevent the inclusion of inappropriate sites. To this end, the process requires approval at various levels. Sites must be approved by DCR's director, the Virginia Board of Conservation and Recreation, and the governor.