There are so many scary stories about the environment these days. It’s easy to overlook the good things getting done right here in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. A lot of it by The Downstream Project’s partners. Our nonprofit partners work hard preserving land, restoring streams, and planting acres and acres of trees. They uplift good public policies that heal our waters and nurture our land.
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Read on for a sampling of our partners’ good work in 2023,
and a look ahead to 2024
Cacapon & Lost Rivers Land Trust Leaps Forward
Cacapon & Lost Rivers Land Trust is one of the most successful land trusts in West Virginia and has preserved over 14,000 acres through conservation easements in Hampshire, Hardy, and Morgan counties. In 2023, CLRLT upgraded its digital communications and management to meet the needs of this dynamic organization focused on the future. The Downstream Project was honored to assist.
Downstream Awarded Land & Water Grant
The Downstream Project has received a 2023 Land & Water Initiative grant from the Chesapeake Bay Funders Network and Land Trust Alliance to coordinate the Blue Ridge Conservation Alliance, a network of partners working to protect the natural, scenic, and historic values of the Blue Ridge Mountains from Front Royal, Va., to Harpers Ferry, W.Va. The focus of the coming years is strengthening relationships with local government. One featured project is an onboarding guide that introduces the BRCA and its partners to newly elected local and state government officials so they can open lines of communication and collaborate.
New Website for Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council
The numbers alone are awe inspiring: 14 lakes with a surface area of 1,000 acres or more, 38 lakes between 100 and 1,000 acres, 184 between 10 and 100 acres, and 1,600 lakes with less than 10 acres, and over 2,500 miles of rivers and streams. That’s the watershed protection area of Michigan’s Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council and its 25 watershed partners.
“When we received a grant to build a new website that would serve as an online tool for water resource information, we didn’t know where to begin,” said Andrea Coronado, Tip of the Mitt’s communications and development director. “The team at The Downstream Project guided us start to finish, creating a new website with incredible interactive features, easily navigable resources, and impactful imagery.”
Building Alliance in the Blue Ridge
Downstream has been a leader in the Blue Ridge Conservation Alliance since its founding in 2015. In 2024, we will coordinate a policy roundtable to explore alliance action on some of the big issues facing the Blue Ridge and Shenandoah Valley: electricity transmission lines, solar development, and data center sprawl.
Engaging Marginalized Communities on PFAS Action Plans
In certain regions of West Virginia, the presence of PFAS chemicals in drinking water—in public schools in disadvantaged neighborhoods, mobile home parks, and municipal systems serving marginalized people—is cause for alarm. The Downstream Project will partner with the WV Department of Environmental Protection and West Virginia Rivers to support community engagement in PFAS action plans through graphic design, branding, website development, and data visualization—a communications platform that can be replicated throughout vulnerable communities in the Mountain State.
Advancing Efforts on Climate Change
Each winter, Conservation WV tracks environmental bills in the West Virginia legislature. Downstream’s creative and technical crew has supercharged CWV’s ability to track legislation by designing a special type of web post that website visitors can easily search. As Conservation WV launches a new climate initiative, we will be supporting grassroots awareness campaigns in seven counties. In 2024 we will partner with the new People’s Climate Solutions to create a storytelling platform to share climate-action successes in the Mountain State. The site will be rich in video, audio, and case studies—showcasing stories of progress to inform and inspire.