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Seal of the Governor
For Immediate Release: September 27, 2019
Contacts: Office of the Governor: Alena Yarmosky,

Governor Northam Leads Tour of Virginia State Parks

Five-day trip will highlight public lands across the Commonwealth, promote Virginia’s outdoor economy

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today begins a five-day tour of Virginia’s state parks, during which he will kick off the Governor’s second annual fishing tournament for state employees, celebrate Public Lands Day, and meet with economic development officials and outdoor companies throughout the Commonwealth.

“Virginia is home to a wealth of public lands that provide outdoor recreation opportunities, protect and preserve our diverse natural resources, serve as an important economic engine, and contribute to our outstanding quality of life,” said Governor Northam. “I look forward to joining the anglers from our state workforce this weekend and to the meetings we will conduct over the course of this trip, highlighting the exceptional landscapes, wildlife, culture, and environmental stewardship that make this Commonwealth great for residents and visitors alike.”

On Saturday, September 28, Governor Northam will host the second Governor’s Fishing Challenge for state employees, their families, and retired state employees. Approximately 200 anglers will compete in boat, kayak, and shore divisions on Buggs Island Lake near Clarksville. The event kicks off at 6:30 a.m. at Occoneechee State Park. The Governor’s Fishing Challenge is part of Governor Northam’s OnTheSquareVA employee engagement program that offers social, recreational, and educational activities for state employees across Virginia.

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) will host free fishing days on September 28 and 29, in conjunction with National Hunting and Fishing Day. Anyone can fish free in public waters around the state without having to buy a fishing license. Buggs Island supports world-class fisheries for largemouth bass, crappie, and striped bass. These fisheries are supported by DGIF’s hatchery system, which stocks both striped bass and black crappie into this system.

Governor Northam will also meet with more than a dozen outdoor recreation business owners and local economic development officials on his tour. Outdoor recreation is a key driver for Virginia’s economy, contributing nearly $22 billion annually and supporting 197,000 jobs. In July, Governor Northam announced the creation of an Office of Outdoor Recreation to lead efforts to promote the outdoor recreation industry in Virginia and recruit new outdoor businesses to the Commonwealth. To learn more about Virginia’s outdoor recreation industry, or the Office of Outdoor Recreation, please visit

“Outdoor recreation not only impacts the economy of our communities, it also aligns with the Governor’s land conservation, workforce development, and public health goals,” said Cassidy Rasnick, Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade and Director of the Office of Outdoor Recreation. “Our diverse outdoor assets, combined with our ranking as the country’s top state for business, make Virginia the natural fit for new or expanding outdoor businesses.”

Governor Northam has issued a proclamation recognizing September 28 as Public Lands Day in Virginia. Across the Commonwealth, Virginia State Parks will join the celebration of National Public Lands Day with special programs, free parking, and volunteer events. The theme of National Public Lands Day is Connecting to Nature Through Service, and volunteer opportunities at nearly all Virginia State Parks will allow the public to help improve the environment while connecting with the outdoors. Kiptopeke State Park on Virginia’s Eastern Shore has been selected as a National Public Lands Day Highlighted Site and will offer special environmental education programs.

“Each year millions of Virginians use state parks to pursue their outdoor recreation passions and to appreciate the paramount beauty of the natural resources of the Commonwealth,” said Director of the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation Clyde Cristman. “We thank Governor Northam for his commitment to both promoting the benefits of outdoor recreation while moving forward with strategic and forward-thinking actions that protect Virginia’s natural landscapes and environment for future generations.”

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