Now in its eight year, Friends finds itself ideally positioned for increasing growth, visibility, and impact. As a result of the Summits convened in 2013 and 2014 at which regional conservation groups and other key stakeholders came together to explore possibilities for leveraging their collective efforts, new energy and new opportunities – in terms of partnerships and initiatives – have emerged. Although Friends has, from its inception, valued the potential of joining with other like-minded organizations, it is now growing into a stronger role as a convenor of collaborative efforts.
As a result a Blue Ridge Coalition has been formed, and more details can be found under the “Our Mountains” tab.
In the meantime, we will continue to grow our Board, in terms of both its number and its capacity, and existing committees will maintain their core functions as they take on new initiatives to advance the mission. The key points of their respective workplans are outlined below. At the heart of our work and guiding our efforts will be the Conservation Corridor, a concept that was introduced in 2009 by the late Jane Pratt, a founding member.
THE CONSERVATION CORRIDOR CONCEPT
Friends of the Blue Ridge Mountains has designed an initiative to create a Conservation Corridor along the length of the Blue Ridge from the Shenandoah National Forest in Virginia to the Potomac River with the Appalachian Trail as its “spine.” This uninterrupted area of forest and other habitats high in biodiversity serves several important functions:
- linking protected areas, which allows animals to travel safely across the region;
- increasing the health of ecosystems;
- harmonizing land management and governance regimes;
- building capacity for sustainable management;
- helping to secure funding;
- connecting people and land in ways that reduce environmental encroachment while increasing “green” jobs, reducing pollution in downstream water supplies, and promoting best practices in management of mountainside lands.
See additional details here.
OUR ANNUAL PLAN
Land Use Committee
Mission: To improve land use regulations and practices in the five counties of the Friends‘ program area (Loudoun, Clarke, Fauquier and Rappahannock in Virginia and Jefferson in West Virginia) so that they continue to preserve and enhance the Blue Ridge Mountains as a valued resource and treasured space for future generations.
- Inventory and compare land use regulations in each county to identify weaknesses, best practices, and opportunities for improvement
- Monitor land use changes in each jurisdiction and alert the Board as opportunities for influencing positive change arise
- Build relationships with country staff, political leadership, community organizations and landowners in each of the five jurisdictions
Celebrations, Outreach and Communications Committee
Mission: To plan, coordinate and publicize events and activities that engage a variety of people from across the region in celebrating, preserving, and enhancing the Blue Ridge Mountains. To avail opportunities to introduce our mission and our work to a variety of audiences. To produce written and electronic materials on behalf of the organization and its activities as needed.
- To host at least 2-3 events that showcase our work and engage both members and non-members and to maintain our presence at local events such as village fairs and celebrations related to preservation
- To maintain a robust program for publicizing our work and activities through press releases, the website, social media, and other emerging technologies, and to produce materials on the activities of the organization
- To develop greater involvement of youth in Friends activities through collaboration with schools and other youth groups and including the presentation of an annual award to a deserving high school student
- To seek opportunities to develop an educational component to support Friends’ mission
Membership and Development Committee
Mission: to expand the number of members for the purpose of ensuring that Friends maintains a strong financial base, providing volunteers for special projects and raising awareness of the need to safeguard the treasured Blue Ridge Mountains. To cultivate and seek major gifts from individuals, corporations and foundations as needed for special projects.
- Expand the current Friends membership by 20%
- Integrate membership services into the new Friends website
- Cultivate and seek major gifts from individuals, corporations and foundations as needed for special projects