Officials seek public input on future of Lake Anna State Park

by | Feb 19, 2024 | ALLFFP, Outdoors, Spotsylvania

The public has until March 13 to weigh in on the master plan for Lake Anna State Park in Spotsylvania County. Park staff joined planning officials from the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation on Feb. 12 for the first of two public meetings intended to solicit comments and suggestions on the direction that the heavily-used park should go.  

The 13,000-acre lake was created in the 1970s to serve as an impoundment (man-made lake) for the nearby North Anna Nuclear Power Station. The state park opened to the public as a day-use site in 1983. Now, the 2,810-acre park boasts yurts, campgrounds, cabins, a boat ramp, multi-use trails, a swimming beach, and fishing and picnicking sites.   

Park manager Dan Quesenberry shared that the park had an estimated $8.4 million economic impact on the area, per a 2022 study. Lake Anna State Park recorded a total attendance of 176,406 visitors in 2023.   

“Our total numbers are trending down now that we have put in place capacity limits during the summer,” Quesenberry said. The park is considered at capacity when all of its 455 parking spaces are full—and the park closes to incoming visitors until space opens up. 

David Bryan, a Virginia state parks planner on the resource management team, said, “Our goal is to create an ambitious yet achievable plan for Lake Anna that incorporates public input and respects the natural, cultural, and physical resources already at the park. In park planning, resources lead the way.” 

Bryan highlighted the area’s various roles over the centuries, from providing forest products to gold mining. He also provided an overview of the park’s various physical landscapes, such as forests and wetlands, and its diversity of plant life. Bryan noted that invasive species management and erosion control remain priorities in the park.  

“Shoreline stabilization…is a major issue throughout the park,” Bryan said. “If you’ve done any hiking in the southern end of the park or rented a cabin on the eastern side of the park, you’ve seen it.”  

“This master plan is not the first; it’s a ten-year update,” said Samantha Wangsgard, DCR’s chief environmental planner. The public is asked to suggest improvements to the plan as the process unfolds. Added Wangsgard: “Are there new things out there we need to consider or are there old things that may not be relevant anymore? And what do we want?”  

Dale Guthiel, who lives near the park, was on hand to let DCR know that traffic is his primary concern. “During the summer, on the weekends, the entrance to the park is incredibly busy. There are times where we have to travel Lawyers Road to get to the places that are more urban for us locals down there to get to groceries and what have you.

“Especially with the improvements happening there at (Route) 208 and (Route) 522, the roundabout—any consideration for stacking of vehicles to allow through-traffic to continue through there in those busier times would be greatly appreciated.”  

Guthiel’s wife Stacy stressed the need for boater safety on the lake. “Can we put up some signs to educate those who are coming for the first time to the lake?” she asked. “They don’t understand the rules of the lake, they don’t understand the depths of the lake. We enjoy the resource, but we don’t go out on the weekends because it’s not safe.”  

Johnny and Jo Finch, with the Friends of Lake Anna State Park and the Virginia Association for Parks, came to make a simple request.

“We hope someday to achieve the level of having an indoor bathroom in our visitor center. I think we are the only park in the state system that doesn’t have this,” Johnny Finch said.   

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