Mission: The mission of the Valley Conservation Council (VCC) is to promote land use that sustains the farms, forests, open spaces, and cultural heritage of the greater Shenandoah Valley region.
Community Need: VCC is the only regional land trust devoted to protecting natural and cultural resources throughout the Shenandoah Valley region. While numerous local environmental nonprofits exist throughout the Valley, their missions are locally-focused, leaving numerous gaps in land protection throughout the region. Similarly, national environmental nonprofits seek regional partners to implement many of their land-protection initiatives. Through their valley-wide membership and connections with nonprofit and governmental partners, they are uniquely positioned to act as a coordinating body for land protection efforts throughout the region, and to fill the gaps by protecting lands that do not fall within the niches of their partner nonprofits.
Primary Activities: VCC currently focuses its work on three primary efforts: conserving naturally and culturally significant lands through acceptance of conservation easements, assisting landowners in protecting their lands by connecting them with appropriate nonprofit and governmental entities, and educating the public about land protection.
Constituents Served: All residents and visitors to Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley region benefit from VCC’s work. Natural and cultural resources are protected through their land protection and outreach efforts, while their educational and community engagement programs are open to the public and target a diverse constituency. During their last fiscal year, they hosted several dozen events throughout the region, accepted a conservation easement, and assisted landowners with water protection efforts throughout the region thanks to a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
Program Details: The Land Trust Alliance (LTA) is a national organization focused on developing best practices for land trusts and training member organizations in these best practices. As part of this effort, the LTA established an independent Accreditation Commission, responsible for the certification of member land trusts that have successfully implemented the LTA’s established Standards and Practices. Accreditation by the Land Trust Alliance is a clear symbol that the land trust is operating in a fiscally sustainable, ethical, efficient, and impactful manner.
Much of Virginia is currently served by accredited land trusts. There remains a need for an accredited land trust that serves Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. VCC’s Board of Directors resolved to adopt the LTA Standards & Practices, and will apply for accreditation with the LTA Accreditation Committee in 2018. Applying for accreditation requires a thorough review of all of VCC’s organizational documents and policies to ensure compliance with applicable laws, adherence to LTA Standards & Practices, and record-keeping sufficient to ensure that VCC’s essential files are not lost in a single calamity. This process involves a page-by-page review of their 46 conservation easements, updating their organizational policies and procedures with new best practices, and carefully backing up all critical files in multiple locations.
Amount Requested: $10,000
Operating Budget: $269,007