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Named best state parks in U.S.

Sports Foundation Inc. gives Virginia 2001 gold medal

News Release | Recognition by BCR

DCR State Parks Director Joe Elton, center, holds the coveted Sports Foundation Inc. gold medal award. He is flanked by National Park Service Director Fran Mainella and Richard Zavala, director of the Fort Worth Parks and Community Services Department, who chaired the judging panel. The award was given at the National Recreation and Park Association's annual convention Oct. 3, 2001, in Denver, Colo.

If you're a Virginia resident, you live within an hour's drive of one of

Virginia's 36 award-winning state parks. If you're not a resident, be sure to visit one and check out its outstanding offerings and excellent facilities.

But don't take our word for it. The National Sporting Goods Association's Sports Foundation Inc. also says Virginia is home to the most well managed park system in America. The association, which represents more than 22,000 retailers and 3,000 suppliers, gave DCR's State Parks Director Joe Elton its national gold medal and state park award in Denver, Colo., in early October 2001.

The gold medal is given in odd-numbered years to the state park system considered most outstanding in recreational management and that which best provided park, recreation and leisure services to its citizens. Virginia's park system finished a close second in 1999 and is only the third system to garner the elite award. Ohio won in 1997 and Florida took honors two years later. Dixie Sporting Goods Co. of Richmond this year nominated DCR's park system.

Virginia's special park system is unique not only for its stunning natural beauty and unmatched offerings. It's also the only state park system in the United States to have opened on one day, June National Gold Medal Award15, 1936. Six parks throughout Virginia were unveiled that day. Many of their original facilities, most of which were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps, have been restored and are still used.

DCR Director David G. Brickley said he felt the park system was so honored because it has remained true to its nature-oriented origins yet has adapted by incorporating modern improvements such as climate control and environmental education centers. The parks have excelled also, he believes, by taking advantage of other DCR programs that focus on open space and recreational planning, the use of soil and water conservation measures, dam management and natural heritage resource administration.

Joe Elton echoed these sentiments, adding that he is particularly grateful to the hundreds of DCR employees and thousands of volunteers who have "dedicated tens of thousands of hours of hard work over 65 years to make Virginia's State Parks the best in the nation."

Click here to learn more about this special park system. Call the Virginia State Park Customer Service Center, 1-800-933-PARK, to make a reservation or learn more about park offerings and amenities.

Click here to download a copy of a resolution in which Virginia State Parks are recognized for receiving this honor. It was passed by the Virginia Board of Conservation and Recreation on Nov. 13, 2001.

News Release
Issued by the Office of the Governor

For Immediate Release
Issued originally by the Governor's Office
Date: November 30, 2001
Contact: Jim Meisner, Department of Conservation and Recreation
Phone: (804) 786-8442

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 Customer Service Center at 1-800-933-PARK or visit the DCR web site at