The permanent protection of four acres in Virginia’s capital city will preserve what historians call “the view that named Richmond.” The riverfront land on Dock Street was recently transferred to the city of Richmond, after years of collaborative efforts with two environmental organizations: the Conservation Fund and the Capital Region land Conservancy.
“Today together we make history working collaboratively with many partners to acquire over four acres of riverfront spaces along the James River,” said Chris Frelke, director of the Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities, in a recent announcement by the city. “Through adding this to our park system we will protect this space for future generations to enjoy.”
The story of how the area inspired Richmond’s naming dates back to 1737 when William Byrd II looked out over the James River from Libby Hill and realized it was almost identical to the view along the Thames in Richmond, England. Over a century later in 1851, the city of Richmond purchased five acres of Libby Hill and created one of the first municipal parks.
“The phrase ‘small but mighty’ comes to mind for me when I think about the Dock Street property,” said Heather Richards, the Conservation Fund’s Mid-Atlantic regional director. “In just a handful of acres, we hold a critical part of Richmond’s history, the key to completing a beautiful trail network and the future of clean water for this area.”
According to the Conservation Fund, the protection of the property will help maintain water quality by blocking commercial development and assisting the land’s natural ability to filter runoff. This greatly benefits the 2.6 million people living within the 10,000-square-mile James River watershed who rely on the river for drinking water, along with the wide variety of species that call the area home including the Atlantic sturgeon, smallmouth bass, and bald eagles.
“Like most Richmonders, so many of my fondest memories were made along the James River,” said U.S. Senator Tim Kaine. “The permanent protection of the Dock Street property is an exciting milestone that will help to both preserve the James and ensure that Virginians can continue to experience the river’s beauty for generations to come.”
Cover Photo: Courtesy of City of Richmond Department of Parks, Recreation & Community Facilities