Secretary Jewell, Governor McAuliffe Recognize Major Addition to National Park System in Virginia

Important chapter in America’s story honored, thanks to innovative Land and Water Conservation Fund 

Last edited 09/29/2021

Date: December 1, 2016

WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell yesterday joined Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, the Chiefs of five American Indian tribes and leaders of The Conservation Fund to recognize the acquisition of Werowocomoco, a major American Indian site of international significance in Virginia. Werowocomoco was the location of the Powhatan Chiefdom during the arrival of the English at Jamestown in 1607 and where Captain John Smith met Pocahontas following his capture.

With the support of landowners, the Commonwealth of Virginia and Virginia Indian Tribes, The Conservation Fund facilitated the purchase of the 264-acre site in Gloucester County along the York River for the National Park Service earlier this year with funding from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). 

“The addition of Werowocomoco to the National Park Service will help tell an important part of our Nation’s history,” said Secretary Jewell. “As one of the most important American Indian sites in the eastern United States, the protection, study and interpretation of Werowocomoco, in conjunction with tribes in the region, will bring this important story of the Nation’s indigenous people to life in the National Park Service’s second century.”
Werowocomoco will be managed by NPS through their Chesapeake office. The property is now the Park Service's first land holding for the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail, designated in 2006 as the first water-based trail in the National Trail System. Though it is not yet open to the public, trail staff will begin a public planning process this winter in close consultation with the Virginia tribes. 
“As a Virginian with an ancestor who landed at Jamestown in 1620, the acquisition of this important space is very personal to me,” NPS Director Jonathan Jarvis said. “To many Americans, Werowocomoco represents the intersection between two dynamic cultures. But to many Virginians, it is significant for the less-told story – the story of people who were here long before John Smith or my ancestors, and whose descendants are an important part of our America.”
Werowocomoco is a rarity in Virginia archeological finds – an intact, relatively undisturbed, town site and cultural landscape. Archaeology indicates it had been a major town for several centuries before Powhatan.

“This is one of America’s most historically significant conservation successes in decades, and its sacredness to the heritage of seven Native American tribes makes its preservation, study and interpretation to the public extremely important,” said Larry Selzer, President and CEO of The Conservation Fund. “I would also like to applaud the leadership of The Conservation Fund’s founder Pat Noonan, who has worked for the last 50 years to protect cherished American landscapes and who was instrumental in the creation of the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail.” 2016 marks the 10th anniversary of the trail.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund was established by Congress in 1965 to ensure access to outdoor recreation resources for present and future generations, and to provide money to federal agencies and state and local governments to purchase land, water and wetlands for the benefit of all Americans. Funds are awarded through federal matching grants that leverage public and private investment and enable state and local governments to create, develop, or enhance everything from urban parks to state wildlife management areas to soccer fields. The funds also provide the public with access to rivers, lakes, and other water resources, and permanently conserve these areas for outdoor recreational use and enjoyment.

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