Gov. Bob McDonnell joined state and local officials July 6 on the banks of the James River as Powhatan State Park opened its gates, becoming the Commonwealth’s 36th State Park. The 1,564 acre Powhatan State Park with 2.5 miles of frontage along the southern bank of the James River was originally part of the Beaumont Correctional Center and was transferred from the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice to the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation for use as a state park in 2003. In 2012 Virginia State Parks hosted a record 8.4 million visits with an economic impact to the surrounding communities of more than $198 million.
“Not every governor has the opportunity to open a state park during their time in office,” said Gov. McDonnell. “This park will become an economic and cultural boon to Powhatan County and will provide increased access for all Virginians to the beautiful James River and a wealth of outdoor activities.”
Gov. McDonnell gave the keynote address during an afternoon ceremony with speakers including Del. Lee Ware, Powhatan Board of Supervisors Chair Barry Hodge and other dignitaries. Throughout the day exhibitors from state and local organizations including the Powhatan Historical Society, James River Association and Virginia Museum of Radio Entertainment provided information on a variety of outdoor, cultural and historical activities. A free concert followed the ceremony and a ribbon cutting at the new park’s river canoe launch.
Virginia’s newest state park offers three picnic shelters, a children’s playground, a canoe slide, equestrian parking, seven miles of multi-use trails and two miles of hiking trails. The park also includes a park office, maintenance area and staff residence. Facilities were completed in 2012. Local volunteers were instrumental in developing the park’s trail system.
The state park’s master plan calls for additional facilities to include camping, cabins and improvements to the intersection of Routes 617 and 522. Additional park facilities will not be opened until the road improvements are made. Money is available in DCR’s budget for both the road improvements and the development of camping facilities at the new park. The McDonnell administration has also included $2 million in the capital budget for major maintenance projects in state parks across Virginia and $50,000 to serve as seed money in developing an International Mountain Biking Association ride center at Pocahontas State Park. The Richmond Region Ride Center is a legacy project of the Richmond 2015 World Road Cycling Championships. Also, roughly $25 million was approved by the General Assembly for building projects at a number of Virginia’s state parks.
The park is located at 4616 Powhatan State Park Road, Powhatan, Virginia 23139. For more information on all of Virginia’s award-winning Virginia State Parks go to www.virginiastateparks.gov.