RICHMOND – The Commonwealth of Virginia has partnered with national retail outfitter REI to promote the inaugural Virginia Public Lands Day, which will take place on September 30, 2017. The newly instituted Virginia Public Lands Day was established during the 2017 General Assembly session and encourages conservation and stewardship through special events around the Commonwealth. Virginia Public Lands Day will be led by The Nature Conservancy, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, the Virginia Tourism Corporation, and conservation organizations across the Commonwealth. Numerous events will take place across the state including: guided hikes, paddling trips, and volunteer cleanups in some of Virginia’s most treasured natural areas.
“Public lands offer Virginians and visitors endless opportunities to enjoy the nature, wildlife and culture that make this Commonwealth great,” said Governor McAuliffe. “Nearly fifteen percent of Virginia is managed for public benefit, which is roughly 3.7 million acres across the Commonwealth. Virginia Public Lands Day will promote stewardship of these lands so that future generations will be able to enjoy their scenic beauty, cultural heritage, and wellness benefits for many years to come. I am proud to team with REI to show the world why Virginia is for Outdoors Lovers.”
To promote this effort, Governor Terry McAuliffe and Matt Liddle, REI’s Mid-Atlantic Outdoor Programs Manager, recently met at Shenandoah River State Park to enjoy the great outdoors and discuss stewardship of Virginia’s public lands.
“Virginia’s public lands not only offer recreation and environmental education, but are also an integral part of our booming outdoor recreation economy in Virginia,” said Todd Haymore, Secretary of Commerce and Trade. “According to the Outdoor Industry Association, outdoor recreation in Virginia generates $21.9 billion in consumer spending, supporting 197,000 jobs, $6.5 billion in wages and salaries, and contributes $1.2 billion in state and local tax revenue. Outdoor recreation is a vital component of the Commonwealth’s overall tourism development strategy, and I look forward to celebrating Virginia Public Lands Day for years to come.”
REI supports various Virginia stewardship projects and has long celebrated National Public Lands Day. This year, REI will be on-site supporting a number of Virginia Public Lands Day stewardship events throughout the Commonwealth.
“This year alone, nearly 15,000 Virginians will take a class or trip with REI, and many of them take place in public lands,” said Matt Liddle. “REI also partners with Virginia State Parks to offer REI customers and co-op members special deals year-round. For example, REI customers can earn a free day pass to any Virginia State Park by showing a REI paper receipt for park entry.”
“Virginians and its visitors alike are drawn to the Commonwealth’s iconic outdoor destinations,” said Locke Ogens, the Virginia State Director of The Nature Conservancy. “Of the 346,000 acres of land The Nature Conservancy has protected in Virginia, more than 120,000 acres have been transferred to our state and federal partners. The Nature Conservancy has helped preserve peaks on the Appalachian Trail, millennial cedars in the Great Dismal Swamp, and the Barrier Islands beloved by visitors to the Eastern Shore.”
“Our 37 Virginia State Parks and 63 Natural Area Preserves are here for the benefit of Virginians and our visitors,” said Clyde Cristman, Director of the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). “On September 30th, all Virginia State Parks will offer volunteer opportunities or special programming and free parking and admission, and Crow’s Nest and Bald Knob Natural Area Preserves will lead hikes. Virginia Public Lands Day underscores DCR’s commitment to protect Virginia’s natural resources for future generations.”
Virginia’s United Land Trusts in partnership with the Nature Conservancy, the Northern Virginia Conservation Trust, the Piedmont Environmental Council, the Potomac Conservancy, the Trust for Public Land, and other organizations will celebrate Virginia Public Lands Day. The last Saturday in September has been National Public Lands Day for more than 20 years.
To learn more about Virginia Public Lands Day or to find an event near you, please visit: virginia.org/PLD.
Virginia is for Outdoors Lovers
Take a drive through the state and it is plain to see: Virginia is one of the most beautiful places in the world. However, to truly experience this natural beauty, you have to get out of the car and explore. If you’re chasing new adventures in the great outdoors, Virginia is the perfect place to get your heart racing. With such variety and beauty, it’s hard not to create a new historic outdoor moment on each trip. This is why Virginia is for Outdoor Lovers.
Virginia’s moderate climate with all four seasons leads to many outdoor activity options and the time to enjoy them. Outdoor recreation ranges widely from beaches to mountains and everything in between. Learn to surf on the coast and ski in the mountains. For the ambitious, you could even do these in the same trip. Virginia offers soft adventure for families to high adventure for adrenaline junkies.
From the leisurely bike rides on the Creeper Trail to the complex mountain biking trails found throughout the state, you can find an adventure that’s just your speed. Virginia is also a hiker’s paradise – from walks through coastal marshes to epic backpacking trips along the famed Appalachian Trail, there’s a footpath for all abilities, offering stunning views, flowing cascades, rhododendron, and large hemlock trees.
Find out why Virginia is for Outdoor Lovers at virginia.org/outdoors.
REI is a national outdoor retail co-op dedicated to inspiring, educating and outfitting its members and the community for a lifetime of outdoor adventure and stewardship. Founded in 1938 by a group of Pacific Northwest mountaineers seeking quality equipment, REI is committed to promoting environmental stewardship and increasing access to outdoor recreation through volunteerism, gear donations and financial contributions.