As part of the Kingman and Heritage Island revitalization, the Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) and Living Classrooms Foundation installed a public paddling facility featuring a new dock which will promote river access to the public. The 65 feet long and 8 feet wide dock and walkway is located on the eastern shore of Kingman Island directly south of Benning Road and is accessible from the Benning Road entrance to Kingman Island.
The dock has been in planning for over 8 years, and the project was officially awarded to Living Classrooms on July 1, 2020 by DOEE, with funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Sport Fish and Restoration Program, Boating Access Subprogram and the District’s 5-cent bag fee. A donation from long-time Living Classrooms Foundation of National Capital Region board member George Quarles helped complete the project, installed by Melka Marine, Inc. DOEE Director Wells stated, “This is a gift to the city. In the District it’s difficult to access the more natural parts of the Anacostia North of the CSX bridge. This dock and the work we’re doing on Kingman Island will provide a needed connection and public access to the Anacostia for thousands of residents.”
DOEE Director of Kingman Island, Lee Cain, and Living Classrooms Kingman Island Director Portia Sampson-Knapp led the effort. Sampson-Knapp stated, “Most of my career has been tied to boats, docks, and bodies of water. There is something unique about being at the beginning of the life of a dock on a great river like the Anacostia. I’m hopeful that the access this dock provides will foster a greater relationship between DC residents and the Anacostia River, and ultimately support both education and conservation efforts for the community and wildlife alike.”
In 2018, Mayor Bowser directed DOEE to designate portions of both islands as a State Conservation Area and the southern area of Kingman Island as a Critical Wildlife Area. In addition, the Mayor also invested $4.7 million for educational and recreational improvements on the islands. This public paddling facility and recent habitat restoration efforts are part of a number of improvements on the islands that are supported by surrounding communities.
Living Classrooms Foundation of National Capital Region manages and conserves Kingman and Heritage Islands, located on Washington, DC’s Anacostia River (a tributary of the Potomac), on behalf of DOEE. The islands are home to Living Classrooms’ award-winning environmental education programming, environmentally based job training, hiking/biking trails, a kayak/canoe launch, and picnic areas. Stewardship of the islands has led to a return of native flora and fauna that is helping revive the threatened Anacostia ecosystem, making the islands an excellent example of what can be accomplished when abandoned urban spaces are transformed back to a natural state.