August is Clean River Month in Grayson County, and to kick off early, Grayson Landcare is pleased to announce Elizabeth Underwood, executive director of New River Conservancy, as their special guest speaker at the Tuesday, July 17, 2023 meeting at the Baldwin Auditorium of the 1908 Courthouse in Independence at 7:00 PM.
As the leading protector of the New River in our area for over 50 years, the New River Conservancy takes on challenges and pursues opportunities from a place of research-informed expertise. The dedicated team of staff, interns and volunteers, include experts in their fields — ecologists, biologists, river guides, engineers, policy experts, financial managers, project planners and fundraisers.
Underwood will update the community on the New River Hill Forest, purchased by the New River Conservancy. The New River Hill Forest, near the New River Hill Farm, purchase ensures that 174 acres and 2,530 feet of riverfront are permanently protected. The New River Conservancy raised nearly 1 million dollars to purchase this land with support from Fred and Alice Stanback, Charlotte Hanes, the Jack M Matthews Foundation, and many other donors. The Conservancy then gifted it to the New River Soil and Water Conservation District, which encompasses Grayson and Carroll Counties, and the city of Galax in Virginia, who will maintain it in perpetuity.
Now, old logging roads have been upgraded into hiking trails for locals and visitors, and river boat access is nearing completion. Once this work is completed and sufficient parking and signage are in place, New River Hill Forest will be open to the public.
Underwood says “ We are getting it done, together, little by little: protecting and donating land to the public, cleaning up the river where it needs us most, partnering with businesses and communities who have a tremendous ability to help, and raising awareness for what the New River means to us all.”
“We also empower community members to advocate for the health of their river by training local volunteers to monitor water quality, use their data to inform projects and educate governmental agencies and other organizations who can influence policy.”
Grayson LandCare and New River Conservancy have been partners since New River Wildlife & Conservation Club persuaded Grayson County to declare August River Cleanup Month 3 years ago. Grayson Landcare is partnering with New River Wildlife & Conservation Club and the New River Conservancy in a planned river clean up on Saturday August 12th, with more cleanups throughout the month.
Join us for the presentation on July 17 or for any of the river cleanups throughout the month and year. Actual cleanup dates (some still in the works) are Preserve Grayson Aug. 5th, New River Conservancy August 12th, Grayson LandCare August 19th, New River Wildlife & Conservation Club August 26th. There is a possibility of 2 additional Cleanups.