Blue Ridge Coalition is Launched
On November 12th representatives from more than 20 conservation and public organizations met at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge in Front Royal, to launch the Blue Ridge Coalition. The Coalition, designed to leverage the impact of diverse conservation efforts, is an initiative that has been in the formative stages over the last year as a follow-up to the Summit convened last October and as a way to realize the vision conceived several years ago of a Conservation Corridor on the Blue Ridge.
At the Launch, several members of the Steering Committee made presentations describing a structure for the Coalition and highlighting the benefits for members: Mike Kane of the Piedmont Environmental Council discussed threats to the Blue Ridge as a way of illustrating the kinds of issues (e.g., proposed amendments to the steep slopes ordinance and plans for gas transmission lines that will cross the Blue Ridge in several locations and could disrupt the Appalachian Trail) the Coalition can address. Hilary Falk of the National Wildlife Federation offered thoughts on a governance structure to support the face-to-face component of the Coalition, and Bill Howard from the Downstream Project demonstrated an on-line platform that members of the Coalition can use to stay connected, learn about issues of mutual interest, and access resources.
By way of response, participants at the Launch event provided input and identified topics for further consideration. Based on the high enthusiasm and interest expressed by Launch attendees, the Steering Committee has invited members of organizations represented at the Launch to join them in taking the Coalition to the next stage by exploring strategies for expanding membership and Steering Committee participation and by developing a focus for Coalition efforts in the coming year. The first follow-up meeting was held December 3rd at the Purcellville Library.
Coalition Launch Photos by Carolyn Millard, NWF