New River Conservancy receives One Foundation grant

New River Conservancy receives One Foundation grant

New River Conservancy (NRC)  is honored to be the recipient of a $50,000 One Foundation grant to support the research, development, and planning towards a comprehensive, Three-State Water Trail for the New River. The comprehensive water trail will be a critical tool for economic development, creating new and expanding existing ecotourism in a manner inclusive of all areas and populations along the watershed.  The plan will identify the infrastructure needs such as boat ramps, roads, and access parks.  Signage and communicative elements will be created, which provide both safety measures as well as educational opportunities.

The One Foundation was founded by Marz Attar on the principle of Rahm, the experience that compels us to give. The One Foundation is both regionally and internationally minded, dedicating resources and mentorship to helping grassroots organizations working throughout central Appalachia and beyond to nurture transformation from the ground up by helping regenerate community, the planet and self.  Attar has noted, “The world is in crisis. We need one another to vision together, to creatively imagine, to collaboratively strategize and to take action to heal our communities. To achieve this unity of thought and action, we need love, sacrifice and to share our gifts with those who seek.”

NRC Executive Director, Elizabeth Underwood, says “At the core of this comprehensive water trail is the creation of partnerships;  this project would bring together leaders from the municipalities of 15 counties, including leaders who are elected and appointed, paid staff and volunteers, national park and state parks, representing governments, non-profit organizations, universities and local businesses.  It is these relationships that connect and restore the communities of the New River watershed.” 

A primary opportunity of this project is the ability to create comprehensiveness and consistency throughout the watershed.  Because of the expansiveness of the New River — 360 miles flowing through 3 states and 15 counties — there are dozens of self-governing municipalities throughout the region.   Creating consistent messaging throughout the water trail, including signage and outreach materials, is an opportunity that would impact the entire watershed.  An analogy would be to compare the river to an interstate of a geographical equivalent.  Because interstates have consistent signage, the traveler is made aware of when they are crossing state lines, where to stop for fuel and lodging, and important geologic features.  Not only are there signs, but those signs are identifiable with a  consistent and recognizable appearance.  This knowledge allows one to travel with more confidence, and thus increases travel, tourism and economic development.  Currently if one were traveling by river, there is a dearth of signage, messaging, and understanding of the geology.   The New River crosses state lines 4 times (due to a “horseshoe bend” between NC and VA) without any signage.  There are low water bridges and dams, which can be dangerous safety hazards.  Mileage markers, educational signs, and a comprehensive map that identifies access points on the river would increase safety and users to the river, thus increasing tourism and economic development to the various municipalities.

It is important to note that this project will be building off of the success of Giles County, Virginia, whose leaders developed the New River Water Trail.  The creators of this registered and trade-marked project had the wisdom to start their county’s water trail as if milepost zero was positioned at the river’s headwaters, which allows other counties and municipalities to seamlessly continue the project across state and county lines. Giles County has expressed their full support for NRC to pursue building upon their efforts to continue this project from North Carolina through West Virginia.

New River Conservancy is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.  Donations to this project are tax deductible.  For more information please contact Lisa Stansell-Galitz at, or you may call 304-661-0947.

Photo: Map of the Giles County New River Water Trail. Comprehensive river maps are also available.  

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