Virginia celebrates opening its 38th state park

STAFFORD, Va. — Gov. Ralph Northam and other state officials helped celebrate the opening of the newest Virginia State Park on Thursday. 

Widewater State Park in Stafford, Virginia, – which covers 1,100 acres – includes two miles of water frontage along the Potomac River and Aquia Creek.

“Virginia’s state parks attract millions of visitors each year, serving as affordable vacation destinations and adding to the economic vitality of the communities where they are located,” said Governor Northam. “With the dedication of this new state park we build upon Virginia’s legacy of conservation and environmental stewardship and expand opportunities for the public to experience our Commonwealth’s natural beauty and renowned system of state parks.”

The land was bought by the state from Dominion Energy, who had previously owned the land and wanted to use the location for a proposed power plant, according to Northam’s Office, who added that the Trust for Public Land and Stafford County assisted in the transaction.

Funding for the $6.1 million property was reportedly taken from Virginia Public Building Authority bonds and a federal appropriation of $225,000 secured by Virginia’s congressional delegation through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program.

“The development of a low-impact state park on waterfront property significantly reduces the possibility of increased water quality degradation,” said Secretary of Natural Resources Matthew Strickler. “More than 73,000 acres of Virginia are protected as state parks, and only a small fraction of the property is ever improved or developed. We are pleased that this land will be protected for generations to come.”

For more information about Virginia State Parks, click here.