History of Our Organization
Friends of the Blue Ridge Mountains (FBRM) was formed as a 501(c)(3) organization in 2007 in response to the recognized threat to the mountains from development, and environmental deterioration. Friends is the only conservation organization in the region with the Blue Ridge Mountains as its focus.
In the course of our seven years we have initiated a variety of successful programs and projects including partnering with other conservation organizations such as the Virginia Native Plant Society and the National Wildlife Federation. Having built our membership to nearly 100, we now have a strong financial base for our work derived from members’ dues and voluntary contributions.
In addition to the Board of Directors, three standing committees focus, respectively, on land use; member and donor development; and celebrations, communications, and outreach. Friends participates in various local festivals and hosts events each year to celebrate the mountains and engage membership. Friends also plays an advocacy role in addressing issues relevant to our mission with local counties and with the Loudoun Board of Supervisors.
Each year Friends presents the Friend of the Mountain Award to an individual or group that has made a significant contribution on behalf of the Blue Ridge. This May, a new award – the Jane Pratt Blue Ridge Education Award, was inaugurated to posthumously honor Jane, a founding member of Friends, and to encourage students to become stewards of the environment.
In 2009 FBRM adopted the Blue Ridge Conservation Corridor concept, conceived by the late Jane Pratt, as a strategic priority. As a first step in this initiative, key ecological, cultural, and historic resources as well as threats in the region between Route 66 in Virginia and the Potomac River in West Virginia have been catalogued. Download the detailed report from our “Links” page.
In the fall of 2013, a second bold step was taken to advance the Conservation Corridor when Friends co-hosted, with National Wildlife Federation, a summit at Bluemont Vineyard. More than 60 regional participants representing conservation and historical groups, landowners, county and town governmental entities, and business owners came together for an all-day session to explore opportunities for collaborative action as a way of leveraging the impact of efforts on behalf of the mountains. Andrew Taber, Executive Director of The Mountain Institute served as the keynote speaker, and Carole Napolitano, current President of FBRM, facilitated the program.
Energy was high and ideas flowed from a wide variety of perspectives, experience, and interests. A shared purpose emerged through the Declaration of Stewardship Principles drafting activity, and participants expressed clear interest in forming some type of Blue Ridge Coalition.
To further the work of the Summit, a Blue Ridge Coalition Steering Committee—now renamed the Blue Ridge Conservation Alliance—has been formed. Visit the Alliance website at www.blueridgeconservation.org.