Kingman and Heritage Islands, also known as National Children's Island, are natural areas in the middle of the Anacostia River.  For more than 50 years, plans have existed to make the islands educational and cultural spaces for District children and families.

A floating environmental laboratory is part of the DOEE master plan for the island.  Image: DOEE

A floating environmental laboratory is part of the DOEE master plan for the island. Image: DOEE

In 2016, the D.C. Council asked the Department of Energy and Environment to produce a new planning study for infrastructure to provide environmental education for DC students on the island. A multi-sector team led by the prominent architectural firm Hickok Cole developed a phased plan, beginning with some basic amenities and leading up to the long-envisioned state-of-the-art nature center.

For five decades, Kingman Island has been the subject of plans and visions that have never been realized. 2018 is the Year of the Anacostia, a year of great momentum for the Anacostia River. We can't leave Kingman Island behind once again. 

The District needs to take the lead in making this  happen. This isn’t a mega-project like the $441 million Frederick Douglass Bridge or the $490 million Robert F. Kennedy Stadium campus renovation plan. The Department of Energy and Environment’s phased study estimated the cost for Phase I improvements, including outdoor classroom spaces, raised walkways, a floating lab platform, bathrooms, and a modest office and storage facility, at about $4 million.

The symbolism of doing something important for our children’s future in the middle of the river that has long divided us is unmistakable. So is the importance of working on a project that can unite us in these disturbing times.

Join us in asking Mayor Bowser to include the Kingman Island project in her Fiscal Year 2019 budget request to the DC Council. After 50 years, it's time to finally transform Kingman and Heritage Islands into a place that makes a better future for DC's kids.


Tweet @MayorBowser to let her know you support the plan for Kingman and Heritage Islands:


Letter to Mayor Bowser:

This letter was signed by 419 District region residents and shared with DC's Mayor Muriel Bowser in December of 2017. If you would like to express support for this effort, please Tweet using the information above or send the Mayor your own personalized email or letter or filling out this form

The Honorable Muriel M. Bowser
Mayor of the District of Columbia
The John A. Wilson Building
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20004

Dear Mayor Bowser,

We are writing to you as individuals and organizations interested in making Kingman and Heritage Islands a natural and environmental education center to improve the lives of the District of Columbia’s children.

As you know, 2018 will be the “Year of the Anacostia” throughout the watershed. We ask that as part of the city’s celebration of this special year, you make the improvement of Kingman and Heritage Islands a priority, request Fiscal Year 2019 capital budget funds, and begin to implement the development plan prepared for the DC Council by the Department of Energy and Environment.

The FY2017 Budget Support Act required DOEE to submit to the DC Council “a proposal for the use of Kingman Island and Heritage Island for recreational, environmental, and educational purposes.” The proposal, developed by a multi-sector group of experts led by Hickok Cole Architects, envisions development of the islands in two phases. The first “light touch” phase suggests construction of pathways and boardwalks, a small administration building with restrooms, outdoor classroom spaces, a floating lab, a viewing tower, and wayfinding signage. The second phase suggests construction of an Environmental Center in the parking area near the walkway to the islands. 

Kingman and Heritage Islands present an extraordinary opportunity to enhance the well-being of the District’s 170,000 children—particularly those in the four wards that border the Anacostia. The Office of the State Superintendent of Schools’ Environmental Literacy Plan has set a goal of every DC schoolchild participating in an outdoor, hand-on “Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience” at least once each year. There is also a very high level of interest in expanding the quantity and quality of meaningful Out of School Time activities for schoolchildren at every grade level. An environmental education campus on Kingman Island would provide a safe, central location to meet both academic environmental literacy goals and social and emotional goals for DC’s kids.

You wrote in your transmittal letter to the DC Council, “This proposal presents an exciting vision for enhancing the islands as a unique educational and recreational asset for children and residents of the District, and moves the District toward the goals of a healthy restored Anacostia River and an engaged community.” Please make moving ahead to implement the educational infrastructure plan for Kingman and Heritage Islands a personal priority in the Year of the Anacostia.

We thank you for attention to our request, and for all the many things that you do for the District’s environment, communities, and children.