Virginia Delegates David LaRock and Randy Minchew applauded Governor McDonnell’s announcement of a new state park in nearby Loudoun County following donation of 600 acres adjacent to the Blue Ridge. The land is part of the 900-acre Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship, a popular day-hiking and camping location for local birders, walkers, and scouting and youth groups. The Blue Ridge Center also managed Bears Den Trail Center in Clarke County in the early 2000s.
The land was donated by the Robert and Dee Leggett Foundation to the Old Dominion Land Trust, which, in turn, is donating the land to the state. LaRock, who represents the district where the park is located in addition to parts of Clarke County, sees the park as part of the expanding tourism and “agri-tainment” zone. “I’m excited about this new parkland being made available, and thankful for the Leggetts’s generosity and Governor McDonnell and Secretary Domenech’s efforts to bring this to pass,” said LaRock. “This Park will be a great addition to Western Loudoun’s already-vibrant winery and tourism industries.”
The property includes historic farmsteads, deep woods and wildflower meadows, and borders the Appalachian Trail. Much of the land witnessed action of Mosby’s Rangers and others during the Civil War.
“Through the work of the Leggett Foundation and now the Old Dominion Land Conservancy, lands of both natural and historic significance have been preserved in an area of the state where such lands are rapidly disappearing,” said McDonnell. “Because of their most recent efforts many of these lands will be available to future generations as a Virginia State Park. I want to commend Robert and Dee Leggett, whose foundation acquired land that became the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship in Loudoun County, and will benefit future generations as a Virginia State Park.”
The announcement might surprise land conservation advocates, since McDonnell entered office four years ago amid statements that the Commonwealth had no business owning land of any kinds. According to Leggett, though, the deal has been in the making almost since the beginning of the McDonnell administration. “I want to thank Secretary Domenech and the staff at State Parks, the Department of Conservation and Recreation, and the Governor for all their work to make this happen,” said Leggett. “I have enjoyed this land for a long time and now I am pleased to share it with the people of the state.”
“As a Loudoun County Scoutmaster, I have had the opportunity to spend many campout weekends at the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship enjoying its wonderful and scenic attributes,” said Delegate Randy Minchew. “Now, as our newest Virginia State Park, this land will provide our citizens with both active and passive recreation opportunities and a beautiful venue for conservation education and environmental stewardship training. I join Governor McDonnell and Secretary Domenech in thanking Bob and Dee Leggett for their generosity and leadership.”
Virginia has 36 state parks open for the public, which host more than eight million visits per year.