How we began is how we’ll always be: committed, persistent and unfailingly hopeful.

Margaret Mead said it perfectly: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed individuals can change the world. In fact, it’s the only thing that ever has.” This is how we began, with people coming together to protect the New River in the face of a proposal to build two hydroelectric dams. The river, and the way of life along it, would have been changed forever. More than 42,000 acres would have been lost. Homes gone. Lives altered in lasting ways.

The years-long fight by the New River’s advocates resulted in permanent protection for the New, with 26 miles ultimately designated a National Wild and Scenic River, signed into law by President Gerald R Ford on September 11, 1976. (His remarks are HERE) In addition, North Carolina formed the New River State Park, protecting 1,500 acres along the river for the public to enjoy.

The New River Conservancy came to be in a way that deeply inspires us today. Our origin matters because we bring this legacy forward with great hope and with that same fighting spirit, passionate advocacy, and shared mission to protect the waters, woodlands, wildlife and communities that depend on a healthy New River.

As a member of the New River Conservancy, you’re joining an organization that, decades ago, did an extraordinary thing. Today we are committed to carrying on that work with continued success. The task is bigger and ever-more complex — we’re tackling issues like failing septic systems, agricultural run-off and streambank erosion to protect, preserve and restore the New River, but our successes show that our work makes a difference and that you make a difference. 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.