Shenandoah Valley conservation groups to merge: Alliance for the Shenandoah Valley
As a new non-profit, the Alliance – its staff, board of directors, and members – will continue to act as champions for clean water, thriving communities, and rural landscapes, while serving as a hub for the partnerships needed for conservation work throughout the Shenandoah Valley.
The new Alliance will serve six Valley counties: Augusta, Frederick, Page, Rockingham, Shenandoah, and Warren, as well as the cities and towns within those counties.
“We are off to a very strong start, with the deep experience of the veteran staff from the merged organizations, and a talented and engaged volunteer board of directors, all of whom are well established in their communities,” said Kate Wofford, Executive Director of the Alliance. “There is so much potential in working together to advance local priorities in land conservation, clean water, and community enhancement. And we can accomplish so much more with the strength and expanded resources of a regional organization.”
While the original or legacy organizations have now merged into a single entity, the Alliance is committed to continuing the important local work of each group. County-level advisory councils, formed from the boards of the legacy groups, have been created to ensure that the Alliance maintains its close local connections and continues to represent the voices of their communities. “The Alliance may look a bit different to our long-time supporters, but as long as people love the Shenandoah Valley, the work of our well-established legacy groups will continue with even greater strength in the future,” said Joan Comanor, chair of the new Alliance Board of Directors.
In addition to continuing local work, the Alliance will also tackle regional issues of concern. For example, as individual organizations, the legacy groups have long advocated for sensible improvements to Interstate 81 instead of the destructive wholesale widening that would put productive farmland and historic battlefields under pavement. Now, the Alliance, speaking with one loud voice, will strongly advocate for smart, targeted improvements that will address the real safety and congestion problems on the interstate.
Other issues that will continue to be addressed by the Alliance include supporting local agriculture, addressing threats from the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline, and protection of our drinking water supply.
“We are the same local leaders, but by working together we will be better able to safeguard the extraordinary natural and cultural resources of the Shenandoah Valley,” Wofford explained.
Former Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Matt Lohr, congratulated the Alliance.
“I was excited to learn about the merger of these organizations and look forward to seeing them accomplish bigger and bolder projects to protect working farm and forestland in the Valley,” said Lohr.
Offices for the new Alliance for the Shenandoah Valley are located in New Market, on the third floor of the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation building.