Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 10.1. Conservation
Chapter 2. Parks and Recreation
8/19/2022

Article 1. State Parks.

§ 10.1-200. Duties related to parks and outdoor recreation; additional powers.

To facilitate and encourage the public use of parks and recreational areas, to further take advantage of the positive economic impact of outdoor recreational facilities to localities and the Commonwealth, to foster the upkeep and maintenance of such resources, and to provide additional means by which the Governor and the General Assembly may determine necessary general fund appropriations and the need for other funding measures, the Department shall establish and implement a long-range plan for acquisition, maintenance, improvement, protection and conservation for public use of those areas of the Commonwealth best adapted to the development of a comprehensive system of outdoor recreational facilities in all fields, including, but not limited to: parks, forests, camping grounds, fishing and hunting grounds, scenic areas, waters and highways, boat landings, beaches and other areas of public access to navigable waters. The Department shall have the power and duty to:

1. Administer all funds available to the Department for carrying out the purposes of this chapter, and to disburse funds to any department, commission, board, agency, officer or institution of the Commonwealth, or any political subdivision thereof or any park authority.

2. Study and appraise on a continuing basis the outdoor recreational needs of the Commonwealth; assemble and disseminate information on outdoor recreation; and prepare, maintain and keep up-to-date a comprehensive plan for the development of outdoor recreational facilities of the Commonwealth.

3. Establish and promote standards for outdoor recreational facilities; encourage and assist in the coordination of federal, state, and local recreational planning; aid and advise various state institutions in the use of existing state parks and similar recreational facilities; work with the appropriate state agencies to develop areas for multiple recreational use, including, but not limited to, traditional uses such as hunting, fishing, hiking, swimming, and boating.

4. Study and develop plans and, upon request, provide assistance regarding the establishment and implementation of recreational programs for state institutions, agencies, commissions, boards, officers, political subdivisions, and park authorities.

5. Assist upon request any department, commission, board, agency, officer or institution of the Commonwealth or any political subdivision thereof or any park authority in planning outdoor recreational facilities in conformity with its respective powers and duties and encourage and assist in the coordination of federal, state and local recreational planning.

6. Apply to any appropriate agency or officer of the United States for participation in or receipt of aid from any federal program respecting outdoor recreation, and in respect thereto, enter into contracts and agreements with the United States or any appropriate agency thereof; keep financial and other records relating to contracts and agreements with the United States or any appropriate agency thereof, and furnish appropriate officials and agencies of the United States reports and information necessary to enable the officials and agencies to perform their duties under federal programs respecting outdoor recreation.

7. Act either independently or jointly with any department, commission, board, agency, officer or institution of the Commonwealth or any political subdivision thereof or any park authority to carry out the Department's powers and duties; and coordinate its activities with and represent the interests of the above entities having interests in the planning, maintenance, improvement, protection and conservation of outdoor recreation facilities.

8. Develop a standard against which the public can determine the extent to which the Commonwealth is meeting park and recreational needs. The standard shall be based on park usage, population trends and densities, and outdoor recreational facility demands. The standard shall be expressed in terms of acres and facilities needed on a regional and a statewide level to serve existing and projected needs and conservation goals. In the comprehensive plan cited in subsection 2 of this section, the Department shall report on (i) the development of the standard; (ii) where the Commonwealth's park system falls short of, meets or exceeds the standard; and (iii) the methodology used for determining clause (ii).

1984, c. 739, §§ 10-21.3:3, 10-21.3:5; 1988, c. 891; 1998, c. 780; 2004, c. 58.

§ 10.1-200.01. Lyme disease signage.

A. The Department shall develop and post in each state park and interstate park signage addressing the appropriate steps a visitor can take to prevent tick bites, how to identify Lyme disease, and where to seek treatment.

B. The Department shall install such signage first in those areas in the Commonwealth that have been identified as most susceptible to Lyme disease and shall complete the installation of such signage in all state parks and interstate parks by January 1, 2028.

C. Until it completes the installation of all such signage, the Department shall report its progress annually to the House Committee on Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources and the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources.

2022, c. 303.

§ 10.1-200.1. State park master planning.

A. The Department shall undertake a master planning process (i) for all existing state parks, (ii) following the substantial acquisition of land for a new state park, and (iii) prior to undertaking substantial improvements to state parks. A master plan shall be considered a guide for the development, utilization and management of a park and its natural, cultural and historic resources and shall be adhered to closely. Each plan shall be developed in stages allowing for public input.

Stage one of the plan shall include the development of a characterization map indicating, at a minimum, boundaries, inholdings, adjacent property holdings, and other features such as slopes, water resources, soil conditions and types, natural resources, and cultural and historic resources. The stage one plan shall include a characterization of the potential types of uses for different portions of the parks and shall provide a narrative description of the natural, physical, cultural and historic attributes of the park. The stage one plan shall include the specific purposes for the park and goals and objectives to support those purposes.

Upon completion of a stage one plan, a stage two plan shall be developed by the Department which shall include the potential size, types and locations of facilities and the associated infrastructure including roads and utilities, as applicable. Proposed development of any type shall be in keeping with the character of existing improvements, if appropriate, and the natural, cultural and historic heritage and attributes of the park. The stage two plan shall include a proposed plan for phased development of the potential facilities and infrastructure. The Department shall project the development costs and the operational, maintenance, staffing and financial needs necessary for each of the various phases of park development. Projections shall also be made for the park's resource management needs and related costs. The projections shall be made part of the stage two plan.

Upon completion of the stage two plan, the stage one and stage two plans along with supporting documents shall be combined to form a master plan for the park. Development of a park shall not begin until the master plan has been reviewed by the Board of Conservation and Recreation and adopted by the Director.

B. All members of the General Assembly shall be given notice of public meetings and, prior to their adoption, the availability for review of stage one, stage two and master plans and proposed amendments for substantial improvements.

C. The master planning process shall not be considered an impediment to the acquisition of inholdings or adjacent properties. Such properties, when acquired, shall be incorporated into the master plan and their uses shall be amended into the master plan.

D. Stage one and stage two plans shall be considered complete following review and adoption by the Director. Stage one and stage two plans may only be adopted by the Director following public notice and a public meeting. The Director may make nonsubstantial amendments to master plans following public notice. A master plan or a substantial amendment to a master plan may only be adopted by the Director after considering the recommendations of the Board of Conservation and Recreation following public notice and a public meeting.

E. The Department shall solicit and consider public comment in the development of the stage one and two plans as well as the master plan and any amendments thereto. Such solicitation shall include reasonable notice to appropriate trade associations and private businesses within a 10-mile radius of the park that offer similar categories of service, including private campgrounds, marinas, and recreational facilities.

F. Master plans shall be reviewed and updated by the Department and the Board of Conservation and Recreation no less frequently than once every 10 years and shall be referenced in the Virginia Outdoors Plan.

G. Materials, documents and public testimony and input produced or taken for purposes of park planning prior to January 1, 1999, may be utilized in lieu of the process established in this section provided that it conforms with the requirements of this section and that a master plan shall be developed that conforms with this section which shall not be deemed complete until reviewed and approved in accordance with subsection D.

H. The planning process contained in this section satisfies the Department of General Services master planning requirements for lands owned or managed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation. The Department of Conservation and Recreation's Facility Development Plans shall continue to meet the Department of General Service's requirements.

I. For purposes of this section, unless the context requires a different meaning:

"Development of a park" means any substantial physical alterations within the park boundaries other than those necessary for the repair or maintenance of existing resources or necessary for the development of the master plan.

"Substantial acquisition" means the purchase of land valued at $500,000 or more or the acquisition of the major portion of land for a new state park whichever is less.

"Substantial improvement" means physical improvements and structures valued at $500,000 or more.

1998, c. 780; 2013, c. 43; 2015, cc. 185, 469.

§ 10.1-200.2. Littering in state parks; civil penalty.

No person shall improperly dispose of litter, as defined in § 10.1-1414, within a Virginia state park. In addition to any penalties that may be assessed under § 10.1-104 or § 33.2-802, any person in violation of this section may be assessed a civil penalty not to exceed $250. All civil penalties imposed under this section shall be deposited in the Conservation Resources Fund.

2001, c. 172.

§ 10.1-200.3. Admittance and parking in state parks; prohibitions; civil penalty.

A. No person shall make use of, gain admittance to, or attempt to use or gain admittance to the facilities in any state park for the use of which a charge is assessed by the Department, unless the person pays the charge or price established by the Department.

B. No owner or driver shall cause or permit a vehicle to stand:

1. Anywhere in a state park outside of designated parking spaces, except for a reasonable time in order to receive or discharge passengers; or

2. In any space in a state park designated for use by the handicapped unless the vehicle displays a license plate or decal issued by the Commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles, or a similar identification issued by a similar authority of another state or the District of Columbia, which authorizes parking in a handicap space.

C. Any person violating any provision of this section may, in lieu of any criminal penalty, be assessed a civil penalty of twenty-five dollars by the Department. Civil penalties assessed under this section shall be paid into the Conservation Resources Fund.

2001, c. 370.

§ 10.1-201. Acquisition of lands of scenic beauty, recreational utility or historical interest.

A. The Director is authorized to acquire by gift or purchase or by the exercise of the power of eminent domain, areas, properties, lands or any estate or interest therein, of scenic beauty, recreational utility, historical interest, biological significance or any other unusual features which in his judgment should be acquired, preserved and maintained for the use, observation, education, health and pleasure of the people of Virginia. Any acquisition shall be within the limits of any appropriation made by the General Assembly for the purchase of such properties, or of voluntary gifts or contributions placed at the disposal of the Department for such purposes.

B. The Director is authorized to institute and prosecute any proceedings in the exercise of the power of eminent domain for the acquisition of such properties for public use in accordance with Chapter 2 (§ 25.1-200 et seq.) of Title 25.1.

C. Before any property is purchased or acquired by condemnation, the Director may request the Attorney General to examine and report upon the title of the property, and it shall be the duty of the Attorney General to make such examination and report.

D. When any property is acquired by the Director under the provisions of this section without the aid of any appropriation made by the General Assembly and exclusively with the aid of gifts or contributions placed at the disposal of the Department for that purpose, he may place the property in the custody of the person or association making such gifts or contributions, or lease the property to such person or association, for a period not to exceed 99 years, upon terms and conditions approved by the Governor, which will best preserve and maintain such property for the use, observation, education, health or pleasure of the people of Virginia.

Code 1950, § 10-21; 1950, p. 394; 1984, c. 750; 1988, c. 891; 2003, c. 940.

§ 10.1-202. Gifts, funds, and fees designated for state parks; establishment of funds.

A. The State Park Conservation Resources Fund shall consist of all state park fees, fees from concessions, civil penalties assessed pursuant to § 10.1-200.2 and under § 10.1-200.3, all revenues associated with forest product sales on state parks pursuant to § 10.1-113, and all funds accruing from, on account of, or to the use or management of state parks acquired or held by the Department. This special fund shall be noninterest bearing. The fund shall be under the direction and control of the Director and may be expended for the conservation, development, maintenance, and operations of state parks acquired or held by the Department. Unexpended portions of the fund shall not revert to the state treasury at the close of any fiscal year unless specified by an act of the General Assembly.

B. The State Park Acquisition and Development Fund shall consist of the proceeds from the sale of surplus property. This special fund shall be noninterest bearing. The fund shall be under the direction and control of the Director and shall be used exclusively for the acquisition and development of state parks. Unexpended portions of the fund shall not revert to the state treasury at the close of any fiscal year unless specified by an act of the General Assembly.

C. The State Park Projects Fund shall consist of all income, including grants from any source, gifts and bequests of money, securities and other property, and gifts and devises of real property or interests therein given or bequeathed to the Department for the conservation, development, maintenance, or operations of state parks. This special fund shall be interest bearing and any income earned from these gifts, bequests, securities or other property shall be deposited to the credit of the fund. This fund shall be under the control of the Director and may be expended with advice from the Board for the conservation, development, maintenance, or operations of state parks. Unexpended portions of the fund shall not revert to the state treasury at the close of any fiscal year unless specified by an act of the General Assembly.

D. The Director is authorized to receive and to sell, exchange, or otherwise dispose of or invest as he deems proper the moneys, securities, or other real or personal property or any interest therein given or bequeathed to the Department for any of the funds established under this section, unless such action is restricted by the terms of a gift or bequest. The Director may enter into contracts and agreements, as approved by the Attorney General, to accomplish the purposes of these funds. The Director may do any and all lawful acts necessary or appropriate to carry out the purposes for which the above funds were established.

E. These funds shall not include any gifts of money to the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation or other funds deposited in the Virginia Land Conservation Fund.

Code 1950, § 10-21.2; 1988, c. 891; 1992, c. 426; 1994, c. 391; 1996, cc. 677, 686; 1999, cc. 900, 906; 2001, cc. 172, 370; 2003, cc. 79, 89; 2007, c. 637; 2009, c. 856.

§ 10.1-202.1. Golden Passport established; free entry into state parks.

The Department of Conservation and Recreation shall establish a Golden Passport card that authorizes persons receiving social security disability payments to enter Virginia's state parks without having to pay an admittance or parking fee. Persons seeking such a card shall, upon the presentation of proof of receiving such disability payments, be issued a card by the Division of State Parks. The card shall remain valid during the time a person is receiving such payments.

1998, c. 778.

§ 10.1-202.2. Disabled Veteran's Passport established; free entry into state parks and discounted services.

The Department shall establish a Disabled Veteran's Passport that entitles the bearer to: (i) enter state parks in the Commonwealth without the payment of a parking or admission fee and (ii) receive a 50 percent discount on camping and swimming fees, picnic shelter rentals, and other Department-provided equipment rentals. The passport shall be issued upon request to a veteran of the armed forces of the United States with a letter from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, or from the military service that discharged the veteran, certifying that such veteran has a service-connected disability rating of 100 percent. The passport shall be valid for as long as the determination of the 100 percent service-connected disability by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs remains in effect.

2009, c. 560.

§ 10.1-203. Establishment, protection and maintenance of Appalachian Trail.

A. The Appalachian Trail shall be developed and administered primarily as a footpath, consonant with the provisions of the National Trails Systems Act applicable to the Appalachian Trail as part of the National Scenic Trails System, and its natural scenic beauty shall be preserved insofar as is practicable. The use of motorized vehicles by the general public along the trail is prohibited, and violation of this prohibition shall constitute a Class 1 misdemeanor. However, the owner of private land over which the trail passes may use or authorize use of motorized vehicles on or across the trail for purposes incident to ownership and management of the land and the Department may authorize use of the trail by motorized emergency vehicles. The Department may permit other uses of the trail and land acquired hereunder, by the owner of adjoining land or others, in a manner and for purposes that will not substantially interfere with the primary use of the trail. Furthermore, the Department may grant temporary or permanent rights-of-way across lands acquired under this section, under terms and conditions deemed advisable. Nothing in this section shall limit the right of the public to pass over existing public roads which are part of the trail, or prevent the Department from performing work necessary for forest fire prevention and control, insect, pest and disease control, and the removal of damage caused by natural disaster. The Department may enter into cooperative agreements with agencies of the federal government or with private organizations to provide for the maintenance of the trail. A person who has granted a right-of-way for the trail across his land, or his successor in title, shall not be liable to any user of the trail for injuries suffered on that portion of the trail unless the injuries are caused by his willful or wanton misconduct.

B. The Department is authorized to (i) enter into written cooperative agreements with landowners, private organizations and individuals and (ii) acquire by agreement, gift or purchase land, rights-of-way and easements for the purpose of establishing, protecting and maintaining a walking trail right-of-way across the Commonwealth, under such terms and conditions, including payment by the Department of property taxes on trail lands or property so acquired or subject to such use, as shall protect the interests of the actual or adjacent landowners or land users and as shall further the purposes of this section. Any department or agency of the Commonwealth, or any political subdivision, may transfer to the Department land or rights in land for these purposes, on terms and conditions as agreed upon, or may enter into an agreement with the Department providing for the establishment and protection of the trail.

1971, Ex. Sess., c. 136, § 10-21.3:1; 1972, c. 413; 1984, cc. 739, 750; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-204. Statewide system of trails.

A. As used in this section, unless the context requires a different meaning:

"Other power-driven mobility device" means any mobility device powered by batteries, fuel, or other engines, whether or not designed primarily for use by individuals with mobility disabilities, that is used by individuals with mobility disabilities for the purpose of locomotion, including golf cars, electronic personal assistive mobility devices (EPAMDs), or any mobility device designed to operate in areas without defined pedestrian routes, but that is not a wheelchair within the meaning of this section.

"Wheelchair" means a manually-operated or power-driven device designed primarily for use by an individual with a mobility disability for the main purpose of locomotion.

B. The Department is authorized to enter into such agreements and to acquire interests as may be necessary to establish, maintain, protect, and regulate a statewide system of trails in order to provide for the ever-increasing outdoor recreational needs of an expanding population, and in order to promote public access to, travel within, and enjoyment and appreciation of the outdoor, natural, and remote areas of the Commonwealth. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Department shall not develop, establish, or extend any system of trails, including linear parks or greenways, in any county having the county manager form of government, unless it has submitted to the appropriate local agency, commission, or board, a plan of development, where such plan is required by local ordinance, for the proposed system of trails.

C. The statewide system of trails shall be composed of:

1. Scenic trails so located as to provide maximum potential for the appreciation of natural areas and for the conservation and enjoyment of the significant scenic, historic, natural, ecological, geological, or cultural qualities of the areas through which such trails may pass;

2. Recreation trails to provide a variety of outdoor recreation uses in or reasonably accessible to urban areas; and

3. Connecting trails or side trails to provide additional points of public access to recreation trails or scenic trails, or to provide connections between such trails, or to provide access from urban areas to major outdoor recreation sites.

D. Each trail shall be limited to foot, horse, or nonmotorized bicycle use, or a combination thereof, as deemed appropriate by the Department. The use of motorized vehicles by the public shall be prohibited along any of the scenic, recreation, or connecting or side trails. This statewide system of trails may contain, at the discretion of the Department, camping sites, shelters, and related public-use and management facilities, which will not substantially interfere with the nature and purposes of the trails.

E. Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit the Department from (i) allowing the use of wheelchairs or other power-driven mobility devices by disabled individuals on the statewide system of trails or (ii) requiring a user of an other power-driven mobility device to provide a credible assurance that the mobility device is required because of the person's disability, in accordance with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (P.L. 101-336, 104 Stat. 327) and other applicable state and federal laws.

Notwithstanding any provision to the contrary, the Department is authorized to permit, in accordance with applicable state and federal laws, the operation of electric power-assisted bicycles and electric personal assistive mobility devices as defined in § 46.2-100 on any bicycle path or trail designated by the Department for such use.

1971, Ex. Sess., c. 136, § 10-21.3:1; 1972, c. 413; 1984, cc. 739, 750; 1988, c. 891; 1993, c. 755; 2012, c. 598.

§ 10.1-204.1. (Expires January 1, 2027) State Trails Advisory Committee established; report.

A. The State Trails Advisory Committee (the Committee) is hereby established as an advisory committee of the Department of Conservation and Recreation to assist the Commonwealth in developing and implementing a statewide system of attractive, sustainable, connected, and enduring trails for the perpetual use and enjoyment of the citizens of the Commonwealth and future generations. The Committee shall be appointed by the Director of the Department of Conservation and Recreation and shall be composed of a representative from the Department of Wildlife Resources, the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Virginia Outdoors Foundation, the U.S. Forest Service, and the U.S. National Park Service; the Virginia Director of the Chesapeake Bay Commission; and nonlegislative citizen members, including representatives from the Virginia Outdoors Plan Technical Advisory Committee and the Recreational Trails Advisory Committee and other individuals with technical expertise in trail creation, construction, maintenance, use, and management. The Committee shall meet at least twice each calendar year.

B. The Advisory Committee shall examine and provide recommendations regarding (i) options to close the gaps in a statewide system of trails as described in § 10.1-204; (ii) creative public and private funding strategies and partnerships to leverage resources to fund the development of trails; (iii) integrated approaches to promote and market trail values and benefits; (iv) the development of specialty trails, including concepts related to old-growth forest trails across the Commonwealth; (v) strategies to encourage and create linkages between communities and open space; (vi) strategies to foster communication and networking among trail stakeholders; (vii) strategies to increase tourism and commercial activities associated with a statewide trail system; (viii) strategies to enhance the involvement of organizations that promote outdoor youth activities, including the Boy Scouts of the U.S.A. and Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. and the 4-H program of the Virginia Cooperative Extension; and (ix) other practices, standards, statutes, and guidelines that the Director of the Department of Conservation and Recreation determines may enhance the effectiveness of trail planning across the Commonwealth, including methods for receiving input regarding potential trail impacts upon owners of underlying or neighboring properties.

C. No later than October 1 of each year, the Director shall provide a status report on the work of the Committee to the Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources; the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources; and the Chairman and members of the Virginia delegation to the Chesapeake Bay Commission. The report shall include (i) current and future plans for a statewide system of attractive, sustainable, connected, and enduring trails across the Commonwealth and (ii) any recommendations from the Committee that will be incorporated into the Virginia Outdoors Plan, which plan shall serve as the repository for recommendations from the Committee. The Virginia Outdoors Plan updates shall be used to capture and advance the concepts developed by the Committee.

D. Members of the Committee shall receive no compensation for their service and shall not be entitled to reimbursement for expenses incurred in the performance of their duties.

E. For the purposes of this section, "old-growth forest" means a forest ecosystem distinguished by trees older than 150 years and tree-related structures that naturally contribute to biodiversity of the forested ecosystems and provide habitat to native Virginia wildlife species, including wildlife species that have been approved for introduction by the Department of Wildlife Resources.

F. The provisions of this section shall expire on January 1, 2027.

2015, c. 461; 2020, cc. 314, 958.

§ 10.1-205. Management of False Cape State Park.

A. The Director shall adopt measures to safeguard the environment of False Cape State Park. These shall include, but not be limited to, the following:

1. Provisions to ensure that adequate drinking water and environmentally sound sewage disposal are provided for visitors to the Park;

2. Adequate measures to protect the dunes, wildlife, and sensitive areas of the Park;

3. Adequate measures to protect, wherever practicable, nesting areas of sea turtles, beach nesting birds, peregrine falcons, and other endangered species.

B. The Director shall be responsible for providing that law-enforcement, fire and rescue services are available for the Park.

C. The Director shall consider limiting visitors into the Park to less than 2,000 per day if such a lower limit is necessary to preserve the Park environment.

D. The Director shall consider further limiting visitors into the Park during certain portions of the year if such a limitation is necessary to preserve the environment of the Park and of the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

E. No motor powered vehicle of any kind shall be permitted upon the land of False Cape State Park except as follows:

1. A public transportation system operated by the Department, or its licensee or designee, to transport not more than 2,000 persons per day into and out of the Park;

2. Official vehicles of the Commonwealth and of the City of Virginia Beach;

3. Vehicles engaged in the construction and maintenance of improvements within the Park authorized by the Commonwealth;

4. Police and emergency vehicles;

5. Vehicles for which the operators thereof have been issued permits (i) by the Department of Interior, prior to July 1, 1984, pursuant to Public Law 96-315 to travel through the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and (ii) by the Department to travel through the Park.

1984, c. 706, § 10-21.3:2; 1988, c. 891.