After more than a decade of informal partnership, several Valley organizations came together in 2016 to explore ways to make sure their work would continue for generations to come. An intensive and thoughtful process resulted in agreement in 2017 to pursue a full corporate merger, creating a single entity that stays true to the merging groups’ identities and programs while expanding capacity and efficiencies. In the spring of 2018, four partners merged to create Alliance for the Shenandoah Valley. In the fall of 2019, the Alliance welcomed a fifth partner, expanding our capacity further into the six county service area.
The history of our legacy organizations
Formed in 1999 in response to a proposed I-81 bypass around Harrisonburg, which would have opened the county’s core agricultural reserve and historic battlefields to development, CAP broadened its mission to encourage good public policy on a range of local land use and transportation issues for almost 20 years.
Largely through the Executive Director Kim Sandum’s policy expertise, careful approach and hard work, CAP consistently provided timely and accurate information to foster good public policy in Rockingham and Harrisonburg.
In addition to its important work on land use and transportation decisions, CAP was instrumental in the County’s 2014 rejection of what would have been Virginia’s first exploratory Marcellus Shale gas well. It also played an important role in the successful campaign to keep oil and gas drilling out of one-million acres of the George Washington National Forest (GW Forest).
Sandum now serves as the Rockingham County Coordinator and Transportation Lead for the Alliance.
The Shenandoah Valley Network worked to maintain healthy and productive rural landscapes and communities, to protect and restore natural resources, and to strengthen and sustain our region’s agricultural economy from its founding in 2002 until the merger in 2018. SVN functioned as a regional resource center for local citizens’ groups that promote good local land use and transportation plans, compatible economic development strategies, and effective land protection programs. SVN worked in the same six counties that now comprise the Alliance’s service area: Frederick, Warren, Shenandoah, Page, Rockingham and Augusta. SVN’s former director, Kate Wofford, now serves as executive director of the Alliance.
Augusta County Alliance’s (ACA) work was guided by its mission to preserve the rural landscape and economy, clean air and water, and abundant wildlife habitat and historic resources in Augusta County.
Formed in response to the destructive and unpopular Atlantic Coast Pipeline proposal in 2014, ACA members and supporters work tirelessly to engage citizens and landowners to make their voices heard. The unneeded pipeline would be the largest project of its kind in Augusta, threatening water resources, the local agricultural and tourism economy, private property rights and the high quality of life in Augusta County.
Retired two-term Augusta County Supervisor and historian Nancy Sorrells served as co-chair of the Augusta County Alliance from its inception. Sorrells is now the Augusta County Coordinator for the Alliance and the important work of ACA continues.
Shenandoah Forum started in 2001 in response to the need for accurate, useful and balanced information regarding pressures for increasing growth and poorly-planned development in Shenandoah County. The Forum quickly grew into a strong and well-respected voice for conservation in the community. Shenandoah Forum’s participation and advocacy shaped the 2010 rural areas plan which created new zoning and subdivision ordinances to encourage land conservation in rural areas and growth in existing communities. The Forum promoted a new economic development plan in 2011 which supports economic growth that is compatible with the county’s natural and cultural resources, and it helped secure dedicated funding for the county’s purchase of development rights program in 2014.
Through the sponsorship of public forums, workshops and media outreach, the Forum encourages active and informed participation from Shenandoah County residents and adherence to Shenandoah County’s excellent Comprehensive Plan. For more than 17 years, it was guided by a vision that Shenandoah County would retain its rural, agricultural and historic character, support a healthy environment, promote a sustainable economy and provide a high quality of life for its citizens.
Shenandoah Forum was an all-volunteer group until Kim Woodwell was hired as Executive Director in 2007. Woodwell now serves as the Project Manager and Shenandoah County Coordinator for the Alliance.
The Scenic 340 Project formed in 1999 to oppose a VDOT proposal to widen Route 340 from Front Royal to Luray to four and five lanes endangering scenic viewsheds, Civil War battlefields, productive farmland, community identity and a growing heritage tourism industry. For more than a decade, Scenic 340 members were deeply engaged in the transportation planning process, promoting alternatives guided by Context Sensitive Solutions. Thankfully, VDOT abandoned the harmful plan, opting instead to replace four bridges in need of repair.
After the threat of the widening plan passed, Scenic 340 continued to advocate for improvements to the state’s road-building policies, partnered with community members to conserve more than 2,300 acres of forest and farmland, providing a critical wildlife travel corridor linking Shenandoah National Park and George Washington National Forest, and enhanced the scenic beauty of the historic Route 340 corridor with Project Redbud, replanting the native trees along the corridor.
Over the years, Scenic 340 Project partnered with Alliance on many conservation issues, and they officially joined forces with the Alliance in 2019.