Virginians will soon be the first in the nation to take virtual tours of their state parks. Governor Timothy M. Kaine unveiled the outdoor interactive kiosk at First Landing State Park in Virginia Beach. When all information stations are installed in state parks by mid-May, Virginia will be the first state in the country to use the technology statewide.

The stations allow park visitors to access GPS-based trail information, wildlife spotting guides, information on park amenities, printable guides and maps, program descriptions, schedules, and more. The stations will also provide interactive virtual tours of every state park trail. More than 30,000 state park images are included in the programming, and approximately 500 miles of state parks trails have been mapped with global positioning coordinates.

"The amount of information contained in this system really is amazing," said Kaine. "This system enhances a park visitor's stay by providing information on the park, nearby attractions, and even local emergency information. These interactive kiosks also can help a visitor plan future visits to our state park system."

The Virginia State Parks Interpretive Information System uses outdoor, weather and vandal resistant interactive touch-screen information kiosks to provide park guests with state park and local attractions information around the clock. The proprietary information program builds on a system that has been successfully used in several Wisconsin State Parks. Virginia is the first state to offer the program statewide.

The energy producer Dominion partners with the state on this project. Officials from the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), managers of the state park system, the Virginia Association for Parks, and Dominion were also on hand for the unveiling.

"This project is truly a public-private partnership," said DCR director Joseph H. Maroon. "Dominion, our other sponsors and numerous advertisers are making it possible for us to bring this new service to our park guests."

Additional sponsorships and partnerships are helping to offset the $600,000 cost of the project. These partners range from locally owned and operated shops and attractions to national brands. Dominion provided $300,000 from its philanthropic arm, the Dominion Foundation, as the statewide naming sponsor. The Virginia Association for Parks facilitated the grant.