Campaign to Preserve Local Mountain Region
National Wildlife Federation, Friends of the Blue Ridge Mountains partner to Launch Campaign to Preserve Local Mountain Region
Austin Kane, Mid-Atlantic Policy Specialist
The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) has formed a new partnership with regional conservation partner “Friends of the Blue Ridge Mountains” (FBRM) to launch a campaign to protect the wildlife, habitats, and cultural resources of the northern Blue Ridge Mountains.
“With our national headquarters practically sitting in the shadow of this spectacular mountain range, we are delighted to be able to focus our efforts and resources in partnership with such an engaged and experienced group of local partners to protect the habitats, species, and threatened culture of this iconic American landscape,” said NWF’s regional director Tony Caligiuri.
Local conservation leaders from FBRM have joined forces with NWF to roll out a bold campaign to bring attention to and preserve this important area, which is threatened by development, population pressures, and the impacts of pollution and suburban sprawl. FBRM has been working since 2007 to seek stronger protections for the areas of the northern Blue Ridge Mountains most threatened by development and environmental degradation.
“Half of humanity depends directly on mountains as a source of fresh water. Mountains also provide critical resources, recreation opportunities, and spiritual renewal. Our Blue Ridge Mountains represent all of these - the highest headwaters of the Potomac and other watersheds, and a vital source of recreation, resources, and renewal. But mountains are exceptionally fragile: the rise in elevation creates many different climates, soils, and types of flora and fauna that make for highly diverse and complex ecosystems. Therefore, we must be vigilant in their protection, and I believe this new partnership will be a significant step in that direction,” said FBRM Board Member Jane Pratt.
The campaign’s initial goal will be the development of a voluntary conservation corridor in one highly threatened section of the Blue Ridge Mountains, generally from I-66 in the South to the Potomac in the North. Recognizing that development, habitat fragmentation, and climate change are among just a few of the many threats to this area, the effort hopes to increase protection of the diverse ecosystems in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The partners plan to engage different groups and individuals in an effort to preserve and maintain the unique natural and cultural heritage of these mountains. NWF and FBRM will create a coalition of organizations to: 1) encourage conservation easements; 2) promote legislative, regulatory and other policy measures that protect habitat and limit development; and 3) educate land managers and the general public. As a first step to creating a conservation corridor, NWF will work with FBRM to develop an environmental baseline survey of the area.
“NWF and Friends of the Blue Ridge Mountains are eager to begin working together on this initiative that we feel will help increase the health of the mountain ecosystems, harmonize land management and governance regimes, build capacity for sustainable management, and help attract funding for concerted efforts. Corridors also connect 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,” said FBRM Board Chairman Al Van Huyck.
For more information, visit Chesapeake Mid-Atlatic Regional Center and Friends of the Blue Ridge Mountain.
Tony Caligiuri, NWF 443-759-3401