A bull elk in velvet, Breaks, Virginia.
COVER PHOTO: A bull elk in velvet, Breaks, Virginia. © Steven David Johnson

Stories in Virginia

Our Virginia: Impact Report 2019

Conservation successes from across the commonwealth.

FROM THE DIRECTOR

Thanks to you!
State Director, The Nature Conservancy in Virginia
Locke Ogens State Director, The Nature Conservancy in Virginia © Kyle LaFerriere

As a supporter of The Nature Conservancy in Virginia, you are a vital part of every success we achieve. For almost 60 years, loyal supporters like you have enabled us to build our team and produce lasting benefits for people and nature.

This year, building on this foundation, we completed one of TNC’s largest-ever conservation deals in the eastern United States. The new Cumberland Forest Project acquired a quarter-million acres of working forests in the Central Appalachian Mountains. Larger than Shenandoah and Acadia national parks combined, the property encompasses 153,000 acres in Southwest Virginia and another 100,000 acres spanning the Tennessee-Kentucky line.

A big deal by any measure, the Cumberland Forest Project epitomizes innovation by harnessing the power of private impact investment to pay for conservation. By highlighting the many ways that conservation pays off, including returns for conservation minded investors, the project helps change the way people value nature.

Putting private capital to work offers solutions to conservation challenges such as forest loss and climate change, and it produces myriad other benefits. The forest restoration we are undertaking will produce healthier, more resilient habitat and cleaner water. Local communities striving to revitalize formerly coal-dependent economies also will gain new opportunities to expand sustainable nature-based tourism.

I’m excited about TNC’s opportunity to demonstrate how innovative financing can help solve our most urgent environmental challenges and shape the future of the entire Central Appalachians.

Thank you for your support in fostering a world where nature and people thrive together.

2019 Impact Report: What's Inside

Mountain view of the Ataya tract and Cumberland Mountains from Cumberland Gap National Historic Park, Tennessee, United States.
Cumberland Mountains The Ataya tract is part of 253,000 acres spanning Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia. © Byron Jorjorian

 

A Big Deal: Cumberland Forest

An innovative new project conserves more than a quarter-million acres of key Appalachian forest.        

(Haematopus palliatus) in flight.
American Oystercatcher (Haematopus palliatus) in flight. © Michiel Oversteegen / TNC Photo Contest 2019

For the Birds

From the Atlantic to the Appalachians, we're working to protect and restore critical bird habitat, while advancing scientific understanding of conservation needs around the globe.

An AmeriCorps crew member watches the fire line during a controlled burn at Piney Grove Preserve, Sussex Co., Virginia.
Monitoring the Fire Line An AmeriCorps crew member watches the fire line during a controlled burn at Piney Grove Preserve, Sussex Co., Virginia. © Daniel White / TNC

Good Fire: Rising From the Ashes

Working with fire to benefit nature and people. Controlled burns are reducing wildfire risks and accelerating the restoration of healthy, resilient forests across many thousands of acres.

The Virginia Coast Reserve offers hands-on science education to Eastern Shore students in grades 5, 7 and 10.
Living Laboratory The Virginia Coast Reserve offers hands-on science education to Eastern Shore students in grades 5, 7 and 10. © Jennifer Davis / TNC

Spotlight: Virginia Coast Reserve Open For Education

Along with bird song and wind, another sound is increasingly heard at TNC’s Brownsville Preserve: school buses rumbling down the unpaved lane to stop in front of VCR headquarters.

Shortly after filing off their bus, students don rubber boots, grab clipboards and march off toward the day’s first open-air “classroom.” Calling this hands-on learning would be an understatement. Fifth-graders, for example, follow TNC educator Jenny Miller into a marsh, where they will soon be digging fingers into the muck and employing their nostrils to hypothesize about its composition. Of course, they will also have access to an array of technical instruments to conduct soil and water tests and record their data.

“Brownsville is really an excellent demonstration preserve to talk about the variety of habitats we have on the Eastern Shore,” says Margaret Van Clief, VCR’s outreach and education coordinator. Van Clief adds that participation is growing, with six of seven local elementary schools completing programs at Brownsville during the most recent school year.

Van Clief anticipates hosting even more students, especially middle and high schoolers, over the coming year. High school biology students venture even farther afield, departing from Wachapreague by boat to spend a day studying Parramore Island, one of more than a dozen natural barrier islands protected by VCR.

While I could have gone other places to teach, I value our rich culture here on the Shore, our natural environment.

Principal, Kiptopeke Elementary School
Principal, Kiptopeke Elementary School.
Subrina Parker Principal, Kiptopeke Elementary School. © TNC

Through their own excursions and workshops, teachers collaborate with TNC to develop the content of these field experiences and corresponding classroom instruction. This partnership ensures that our environmental science curriculum aligns with the Standards of Learning prescribed by Virginia’s Department of Education.

The program has no greater champion than Kiptopeke Elementary School Principal Subrina Parker, an Eastern Shore native and 30-year veteran educator with Northampton County Public Schools. “While I could have gone other places to teach, I value our rich culture here on the Shore, our natural environment,” Parker says.

Now she’s seeing that same passion developing in students as their eyes are opened to the wonders of the Virginia Coast Reserve. “When they get there and have those hands-on experiences, they want to go back again—and you do find them going back with their parents for other events,” says Parker.

“The kids are taking the lessons home, applying them and spreading them to their parents and others,” adds Miller. “Hopefully, in the future, they’ll be the ones helping to protect the Eastern Shore.” It’s a model TNC seeks to spread around the globe to help foster our next generation of conservation leaders.

  • Conservation highlights and successes from across the commonwealth.

    Our Virginia: 2019 Impact Report

    (38.46 MB PDF)

    Conservation highlights and successes from across the commonwealth.

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  • Conservation highlights and successes from across the commonwealth.

    Nuestra Virginia: Informe de Impacto 2019

    (4.14 MB PDF)

    The Nature Conservancy en Virginia está trabajando por un futuro donde las personas y la naturaleza pueden prosperar. Obtenga más información en nuestra Informe de Impacto Anual de 2019.

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