|Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network Expands with Nine New Virginia Sites|
Sites mark new National Park Service / Virginia State Parks partnership
Annapolis, MD (03/06/01) - The National Park Service has once again expanded its Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network with the addition of nine new Gateways sites located in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The Network aims to create a broader commitment to Bay restoration and conservation efforts by highlighting important Chesapeake Bay stories at sites across the watershed.
The Gateways Network has teamed-up with the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation to add six Virginia State Parks located on the Bay and its tidal tributaries: Kiptopeke, First Landing, Chippokes Plantation, York River, Westmoreland and Mason Neck. Other new sites include the George Washington Birthplace National Monument, a new water trail on the Maury River, and a second Gateway site at First Landing State Park at its Chesapeake Bay Center. With the addition of these sites and two more in Maryland, visitors can learn more about the Bay through 41 Gateways in Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New York.
“The Department of Conservation and Recreation is excited about our expanding partnership with the Gateways Network,” said David Brickley, Director of the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. “The new Gateway designations provide Virginians and our visitors with added opportunities to learn more about the Bay and its watershed. Each additional site gives them the chance to enjoy the Bay and its tributaries, and at the same time, learn about Bay watershed conservation as well.”
“The addition of these sites to the Bay Gateways Network will increase opportunities for Bay residents and visitors to create new chapters in the story of the Chesapeake,” said Jonathan Doherty, National Park Service manager for the Gateway Program. “Visitors to these Gateways will increasingly be able to relate each of these sites’ cultural, historical or ecological significance to the Bay.”
Each new Gateway brings a unique attraction and benefit to the Network. Approved as a Gateway “Regional Information Center,” the Chesapeake Bay Center will provide visitors a great deal of information about the Chesapeake Gateway sites they can visit in the Virginia Beach/Norfolk area.
Located at the mouth of the Bay, First Landing State Park teaches visitors about Captain John Smith’s 1607 landing in Virginia and also explains the interaction between the waters of the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean. The park also provides Bay front beaches for many visitors. Across the Bay, Kiptopeke State Park offers the chance for visitors to explore the lower Eastern Shore’s unique habitat, as well as learn about migratory birds and the Atlantic Flyway.
New sites along the Bay’s tributaries highlight the rivers’ profound role in the Bay’s natural and cultural life. Chippokes Plantation State Park, settled in 1619 and located on the James River in Surry County, interprets the river’s role in plantation life. York River State Park offers visitors an opportunity to experience the rare and delicate environment of a coastal estuary.
Three new Gateways along the Potomac expand the number already along that river. George Washington Birthplace National Monument, managed by the National Park Service, tells of the first president’s early life and the influences of the Bay environment in Colonial times. Close by, Westmoreland State Park gives visitors spectacular views and recreation opportunities along a mile and a half of scenic river shoreline. Up river, Mason Neck State Park sits on a peninsula attracting herons, bald eagles and many other species of wildlife.
Many miles to the west, the Maury River joins a number of other developing water trails in the Gateways Network. Water trails – routes for paddlers and boaters to experience the Bay and its tributaries – are key links to the entire Chesapeake watershed. The Maury Water Trail, nominated by Rockbridge County and the Maury River Alliance, will provide canoeists with 34 miles of scenic paddling along rocky outcrops, forests, fields and historic sites.
New Gateway nominations are reviewed on a monthly basis by the National Park Service and a Working Group established by the Chesapeake Bay Program. Additional Gateways will be added in coming months and will be featured as part of the Network website, and in a new map and guide to be published this year.
To advance the Gateways Network, the National Park Service provides technical assistance and a matching grants program to enhance interpretation, visitor information and access and conservation projects at designated Gateways.
“Chesapeake Bay Gateways help us all appreciate the deep connection between people, the Bay and the natural world,” said Doherty. ”Evoking this connection every day through these special places is important in our collective efforts to conserve and restore the Chesapeake Bay.”