Governor McAuliffe today completed his 37th state park visit, becoming the first sitting governor to tour Virginia’s complete system. His trips to Staunton River, Staunton River Battlefield, and Occoneechee successfully fulfilled the governor’s campaign promise to personally visit every state park while in office.
“Having seen them all, I can confidently tell you that every Virginia State Park is worth visiting,” said Governor Terry McAuliffe. “Our State Parks offer unparalleled opportunities for recreation and environmental education, while serving as a reminder of our rich heritage. They also contribute significantly to our Commonwealth’s economy by encouraging tourism and commerce in every corner of the state. I want to thank the men and women of the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation for working day and night to make our park system the best in the world and for welcoming Dorothy and me as we set out on this tour of Virginia’s amazing natural assets.
From an original 6 parks in 1936, the Virginia State Park system has expanded to 37 treasured sites in communities across the Commonwealth. Most recently, Natural Bridge State Park was opened in Rockbridge County to protect and share its namesake, an iconic geologic formation formerly owned by Thomas Jefferson. A report from the Virginia Tech Pamplin College of Business found that Virginia State Parks hosted more than 10 million visitors in 2016, stimulating more than $224 million in visitor spending and $19.6 million in tax revenue.
“These visits allow us to see first-hand how spectacular our state parks are and to receive recommendations directly from staff regarding what improvements can be made,” said Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward. “The things we’ve learned have helped us improve visitor experiences while protecting the biodiversity and character of our state parks.”