About

Virginia’s Coastal Wilds is presented by the Middle Peninsula Chesapeake Bay Public Access Authority.

Who We Are

The Middle Peninsula Chesapeake Bay Public Access Authority was created by the Virginia General Assembly on April 7, 2002, and ratified by participating localities on June 13, 2003. The Public Access Authority recognizes that shorelines are high priority natural areas and that it is critical to set aside access sites for all types of recreational activities important to our economy and to the citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia. As a regional leader in addressing public access issues, the Authority understands the importance of public outreach and quality education as it relates to water access and strives to better inform the public on issues of public access. Its members are the Counties of Essex, Gloucester, King & Queen, King William, Mathews and Middlesex, and the Towns of Tappahannock, Urbanna and West Point.


Our Story

In 1998 and prior, the 9 jurisdictions of the Middle Peninsula were the subject of ongoing litigation focusing on the public’s right to access the water via road endings managed by the Virginia Department of Transportation. One case in particular worked through the Virginia court systems and eventually rose to the Virginia State Supreme Court which placed Mathews County in the position of defending the public’s right to access to the water. Thousands and thousands of dollars was spent to litigate the public’s right for access to the water. Del. Harvey Morgan recognized litigation was not the preferred path for managing public access. A regional solution to a cross-jurisdictional problem was needed.

A blue heron takes flight over the march along School House Road in the Naxera section of Gloucester County Thursday February 13, 2020.

In the late 1990’s, much of the coastal portion of the Middle Peninsula was experiencing rapid residential development and a surge of retirees locating to the Middle Peninsula. Traditional public access sites and culturally excepted practices and uses were being challenged as NIMBYs (Not In My Back Yard). In 1998-1999, the Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission directed staff to inventory all road endings within the Middle Peninsula which ended at the water’s edge. Over 300 road endings were identified with the assumption of a public right for ingress and egress to the water.

In 2000, the Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission directed staff to develop a regional strategy for managing and preserving public access and to seek enabling legislation for the formation of a special purpose political subdivision for the sole purpose of protecting the public’s right to access public waters. The concept of the Middle Peninsula Chesapeake Bay Public Access Authority was introduced. Enabling legislation to create the Middle Peninsula Chesapeake Bay Public Access Authority was drafted and proposed to the Virginia 98th District Representative Delegate Harvey Morgan. Legislation was introduced in 2001 for the 2002 General Assembly session under HB 619 Middle Peninsula Chesapeake Bay Public Access Authority Act. The legislation passed and the Authority came into existence and convened for the first time on June 13, 2003.


Why We Do What We Do

Part of the service of the Middle Peninsula Chesapeake Bay Public Access Authority is to answer and research public access problems in the Middle Peninsula.

Do you have an access problem or question?

If so CLICK HERE to explore how to access the coast or CONTACT US here.


Download these documents for more info:

Bylaws Operating Agreement
Visual Portfolio, Posts & Image Gallery for WordPress

Support the Coastal Wilds

Virginia’s Coastal Wilds grows thanks to the support of the community in the donation of land, time, talent and treasure! Interested in lending your support?

SUPPORT US