Loudoun County is officially home to a state park, following a deed recording Tuesday.
Gov. Bob McDonnell announced plans for the park in northwestern Loudoun just before leaving office in 2014. Since then, efforts have focused on transferring the assemblage of land on the Blue Ridge to the state government.
The Robert and Dee Leggett Foundation donated 600 acres to the Old Dominion Land Conservancy, which this week transferred the land to the Virginia Department of Conservation & Recreation.
The property borders the Appalachian Trail and includes former farms, woods and meadows. The parcel was part of the 900-acre Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship and is the initial portion of what is planned to be a 1,500-acre park.
It will be several years before the park is open to the public, however. Next, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, which manages the Virginia park system, will work with area residents, park planners and state leaders to develop master plans for the property.
“The significance of this new state park is immense and I have been privileged to have been a part of this process over the past three years,” Supervisor Geary M. Higgins (R-Catoctin) said in a statement announcing the milestone. “This park will be a jewel to Loudoun County, the Catoctin District, the Commonwealth of Virginia and the Nation.”
Higgins noted the property’s historical significance, having been the route Mosby’s Rangers took to attack the federal camp of Cole’s Cavalry on Jan. 10, 1864.
“I commend Bob and Dee Leggett for their donation and foresight to create this park that will be enjoyed not only by residents of Loudoun County but by many future generations,” Higgins said.
Members of Loudoun’s General Assembly delegation also praised the effort.
“I have hiked through this land a number of times and it is a great piece of property. It could become the Sky Meadows State Park of Loudoun County,” said Del. J. Randall Minchew (R-10th), who led efforts to secure funding for the park project.
“I’m proud of all of the work our local elected officials have put into bringing this project to fruition,” Sen. Richard H Black (R-13th) said. “It will be a lasting benefit to the community that will provide a place for people to enjoy the beauty of Loudoun County.”
“I’m excited about this new park being established and thankful for the efforts of Sen. Dick Black, Del. Randy Minchew, Supervisor Geary Higgins and State, County and ODLC staff to make this state park a reality,”Del. Dave LaRock said. “This park will be a great addition to Western Loudoun’s already-vibrant winery and tourism industries.”