Blue Ridge Center
for environmental stewardship
preserve ~ experience ~ enjoy

Breaking News: Planning to begin for a new state park at the Blue Ridge Center


Message from the President of the Board of Directors

On behalf of the Board of Directors I am excited to share with you that planning has started to transition part of our land preserve into a new state park, as announced by former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell. This transition includes 600 of the Blue Ridge Center’s 900 acres and will take place over several years. We at the Blue Ridge Center are pleased that the natural and cultural resources we’ve long stewarded will continue to be protected in perpetuity as a state park, thanks to generous donations from the Robert and Dee Leggett Foundation and the Old Dominion Land Conservancy.

Governor McDonnell summarized this significant occasion: “Through the work of the Robert and Dee 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.” It will be several years before the state park is developed, pointed out Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation spokesman Gary Haugh. With post-election transitions in the state government, we expect it will take many months to finalize the land donation, let alone begin developing a state park master plan.

So what does this news mean for the families, scouts, students, hikers, and equestrians who have long cherished free and open access to the Blue Ridge Center? In short, there will be no changes for the foreseeable future.

The entire 900-acre land preserve will continue to be managed by the Blue Ridge Center nonprofit organization, keeping the same policies for recreational access, wildlife conservation, and agriculture and environmental education programs. Specifically:
-- Access to the trail network will continue to be free to the public
-- Reservations for camping, the Education Center, or Demory-Wortman House are unaffected and will continue to be taken
-- Programs and events are ongoing and will continue to be scheduled

Despite the park plans, funding is not available from the state of Virginia, meaning your donations will be just as important now as ever. Donations and volunteer support enable us to steward the land and continue our tradition of delivering family-friendly outdoor education and recreation activities.

The treasured flora, fauna and cultural resources at the Blue Ridge Center will continue to be a public and protected resource, part of the great heritage of Virginia and the Blue Ridge Mountains. As a vested stakeholder, we will keep you informed and up-to-date on this important transition. Please refer to our website and Frequently Asked Questions for additional information and updates.

Kind regards,
Greg300dpi
      
Gregory A. Miller, Ph.D.
President, Board of Directors
Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Using the Land Preserve

Q: Can I still use the trails?
Yes. All hiking and equestrian trails are open and available every day of the week. Any limitations or temporary closures are clearly posted near the parking area.

Q: I have a reservation for camping/program/overnight stay/special event. Will I have to cancel?
No. All reservations are unaffected and future reservations will continue to be taken.

Q: Can I still go camping at the Blue Ridge Center?
Yes. Campgrounds are available for use. Please contact us at info@blueridgecenter.org or 540-668-7640 to make a reservation.

Q: Is the Demory-Wortman House still available for rentals?
Yes. The Demory-Wortman House is the perfect location for a rustic retreat in the countryside. Please contact us at info@blueridgecenter.org or 540-668-7640 to make a reservation.

Q: What will happen to Mountain View Farm?
Organic farming activities at the Mountain View Farm will continue as before.

Q: Will there still be programs and events at the Blue Ridge Center?
Yes. Please check our calendar for the latest scheduled events.

Q: Does this change mean I can use the trails for bicycling, horseback riding, or ATV riding?
Due to the fragile ecological nature of the Blue Ridge Center property and conservation restrictions, our current trail use policies continue to apply. Bicycling and motorized vehicles are prohibited at all times on all 900 acres. Horseback riding is limited to members of US Trail Ride, Inc. (USTR); please see ustrailride.org for additional information.

Q: Will I have to pay a fee to access the Blue Ridge Center?
No. The Blue Ridge Center will continue to be free and open to the public every day of the year. We still rely on your financial donations and volunteer time donations to maintain the trails, cultural resources, education facilities and ecosystem. Please join our Friends program today.

Q: Does the Blue Ridge Center still need any financial and volunteer donations?
Yes. To keep the trails open and the resources protected, we continue to need your financial donations and volunteer time. The State of Virginia will not be paying for the operations and programs of the Blue Ridge Center in the foreseeable future.


State Park Transition

Q: Does the land the Blue Ridge Center manages now belong to the state of Virginia?
No. None of the land the Blue Ridge Center manages has yet been transferred to the State of Virginia. As of January 8th, the state has entered into an agreement with the owner of 600 acres of the land preserve (the Old Dominion Land Conservancy) with the intention of creating a state park. Additional work must be done by all parties before any final land transfer takes place.

Q: Assuming the land agreement is made, will all the land the Blue Ridge Center manages belong to the state of Virginia?
No. The 600 acres being donated to the state are the western section of the Blue Ridge Center, consisting largely of hiking trails and protected forest. The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation noted that it will be several years before the property is developed as a state park. With post-election transitions in the state government, we expect it will take many months to finalize the land donation, let alone begin developing a state park master plan. These lands continue under management by the Blue Ridge Center with no changes expected anytime soon in recreation access and use, wildlife management and conservation, and agriculture and environmental education programs.

The 283 acres at the eastern end of the property will remain entirely under the management of the Blue Ridge Center. This area includes the Education Center, the historic Demory-Wortman House, the organic Mountain View Farm, the Demory Field camping area, numerous historical structures along the Farmstead Loop trail, and the trailhead parking lot.

Q: What is the name of the state park? When will the state park open?
Since the process is in the formative stages, no name has been proposed for the future state park. There is a formal park planning process the state must follow for any state park.

Q: I read that there are plans for the state park to be 1,500 acres. Is that true?
The current plan is to establish a new state park with the 600 acres donated by the Old Dominion Land Conservancy that it received from Leggett Foundation. Any expansion of the park would depend upon acquiring additional land in the vicinity of the Blue Ridge Center. We’ll keep you posted as more information becomes available.

Q: What is the Blue Ridge Center going to do now?
The Blue Ridge Center is still responsible for managing all 900 acres of the land preserve. In order to keep the land open to the public during this transition phase, we still need your donations as there is no financial support from the state of Virginia. We will soon begin discussions with the state to address ongoing BRCES programs and policies.

Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship

11661 Harpers Ferry Rd.

Purcellville, VA  20132

540-668-7640

info@blueridgecenter.org 

 

The Blue Ridge Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization supported by donations

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