Lake Manassas: One Step Closer to Public Access
The Manassas City Council is following through on its decision to open Lake Manassas to fishing, boating, and potentially other recreational uses. The local fishing and conservation communities continue to apply steady pressure to open up public land for outdoor recreation.
On May 24, the city’s Public Works Director described negotiations with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) and with George Mason University (GMU) as “not fast, but deliberate.” A more-complete report is scheduled for a work session on July 1, after a City Council organizational meeting at 5:30pm.
Manassas is working out the “how do we open the lake to public use” details. Operations at the boat ramp could be staffed by GMU students and personnel associated with the Freedom Center.
DGIF game wardens would patrol the lake, checking fishing licenses and providing a law enforcement presence. The state agency may be able to obtain $100-200,000 in Federal grants for constructing a boat ramp and boat rental building. In addition, state authority would streamline the permitting process (though the city still plans to notify Prince William County of its plans).
The City Council’s willingness to open Lake Manassas stands in clear contrast to the US Fish and Wildlife Service (which has kept Featherstone National Wildlife Refuge closed since acquiring it 40 years ago) and the Prince William Board of County Supervisors (which has kept Dove’s Landing closed since acquiring it in 1996). Those agencies have maintained a “Public Land – Keep Out” approach at parcels that could have been opened long ago – at minimal cost - for fishing, wildlife observation, hiking, and other passive recreational uses.
(Dove’s Landing is a 235-acre undeveloped property located in mid-county, along the Occoquan River, upstream from Lake Jackson. Featherstone National Wildlife Refuge is a 300-acre parcel located on the eastern edge of Prince William, with a mile of Potomac River frontage.)