Local leaders work to declare York River as scenic and historic

Posted at 7:23 PM, Jan 16, 2015
and last updated 2015-01-16 19:23:02-05

Yorktown, Va. - Some folks know the York River for its scenic views, like the Coleman Bridge. Others know the York for its history, with ships from as far back as the Revolutionary War still at the bottom of the river.  But local leaders hope people from all over will soon come to know the river for both.

"By bringing the communities together and talking about the history and the environmental factors out here on the water, we can hopefully gauge and get more people thinking about it, becoming more concerned about their own backyard," said Michael Steen, Director of Education at the Watermen's Museum.

Steen is leading the initiative to have the 34-mile river classified as both scenic and historic in order to raise awareness of the river's environment and ecology and preserve its history for locals and tourists.  One way they want to do it is by conducting new surveys of shipwrecks deep below.

History, education and tourism - those are the biggest goals of this initiative with the river, Steen tells NewsChannel 3.  But the plan has also been met with a lot of challenges along the way.

"Challenge is getting folks to work together," said Steen.

Steen has had discussions with leaders in five counties - York, Gloucester, James City, New Kent and King and Queen - to have a survey done to determine if the river qualifies for scenic designation. But the state would have the final word.  In fact, state leaders would have to pass legislation to establish the title to the river.

When asked what this project means to Steen personally, he said, "Education. That's what's important. We're here to teach other people and help them to learn about the environment and their history."

The river designation could take more than a year to accomplish.