Partnership to accelerate clean water, farmland protection
A partnership of Shenandoah Valley-based conservation groups will bring almost $1 million to the region to accelerate clean water practices and farmland protection.
Today, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) announced that the Shenandoah Valley Conservation Collaborative (Collaborative) has received a three-year award under its Chesapeake Bay Stewardship grant program.
The Collaborative brings together land trusts, watershed groups, regional nonprofits, and agency partners working toward shared goals in water quality, agricultural vitality and protected rural landscapes in six Valley Counties.
The nonprofit Alliance for the Shenandoah Valley, based in New Market, is the coordinator and fiscal agent of the project. Collaborative members include Potomac Conservancy, Valley Conservation Council, Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation, Friends of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River, Friends of the Shenandoah River, Friends of Middle River, Shenandoah County Easement Authority, Frederick County Conservation Easement Authority, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Trout Unlimited, Natural Resources Conservation Services, and the Valley’s three Soil and Water Conservation Districts.
“Last year, our Collaborative partners got together and identified two major barriers to conservation and restoration work on private land in the Valley: field staff to work cooperatively with landowners to get projects implemented and funding for the programs,” says Kate Wofford from Alliance for the Shenandoah Valley. “Today’s announcement from NFWF means that we will have significant new resources to the region to address these barriers. We are thrilled.”
“Landowners in the Shenandoah Valley have made great strides improving farm practices for clean water, preserving rural landscapes, and contributing to the agricultural fabric of the region,” said Senator Emmett Hanger, who supported the proposal. “I applaud NFWF and the Valley partners for building upon the strong track record of conservation and restoration.”
According to Delegate Tony Wilt, “conservation practices and programs on farms are succeeding in restoring the health of our local rivers and the Chesapeake Bay. More work remains to meet our goals, and this public-private partnership will help bring the resources that local landowners need to get the job done. I was pleased to weigh in with my support of the Shenandoah Valley Conservation Collaborative proposal, and I wish the locally-based partnership much success.”
“On behalf of the Lord Fairfax SWCD, we are delighted to be a participant with the Alliance and other collaborative partners in this important effort. We look forward to successfully combining our efforts to improve water quality, soil health and farmland protection!” stated Richard Hoover, chairman of the Lord Fairfax Soil and Water Conservation District.
“This unique partnership among nonprofits, agencies and local governments will expand NRCS capacity to implement on-the-ground conservation practices and address a backlog of livestock-related project needs,” said Jack Bricker, NRCS Virginia State Conservationist. “By expanding landowner outreach, building technical expertise, and investing in farmer-to-farmer networks, we can deliver long-term conservation benefits that extend far beyond the Shenandoah Valley.”
The Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund is a pooled grant fund managed by National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and made possible through significant annual funding from EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program Office, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Forest Service, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, corporate and foundation partners. Today, NFWF announced nearly $13 million in total grant awards across 47 projects and leveraging nearly $20 million in local matching funds for a total conservation impact of roughly $32 million.