Clinch River Valley Initiative Background

The Clinch River Valley Initiative (CRVI) is a pioneering effort to build local economies in the coalfields of Southwest Virginia, focusing on the Clinch River – one of the most biodiverse river systems in North America.  Working at a watershed scale with several local partners, this collaborative grassroots effort has developed significant momentum with applicability for communities in Appalachia and beyond.

Utilizing a consensus-based approach, project partners are articulating and prioritizing goals for connecting downtown revitalization, access points, water quality, entrepreneurship and environmental education along the Clinch River, and developing an action plan to realize the prioritized goals as part of the effort.  Strategies are being identified to connect downtown revitalization with outdoor recreation along the Clinch River.  Using a regional planning approach, the project connects to cultural and natural heritage efforts including the Heartwood:  Southwest Virginia’s Artisan Gateway, Round the Mountain, the Crooked Road, and other artisan networks.  Finally, the effort builds upon the unique cultural and ecological assets of the Clinch River Valley to distinguish and create new possibilities in the communities along the Clinch. These new possibilities will create distinctive cultural and ecological areas, particularly centered around environmental education and entrepreneurship opportunities.

Building on a vision for the Clinch River Valley, five action groups are currently developing substantial actions around five goal areas as part of the Initiative.

By 2020, the Clinch River Valley will be a global destination based on its unique biodiversity, natural beauty, cultural attractions and outdoor opportunities.  This collaboration will bring measurable economic, environmental and social benefits to the region’s communities while protecting the Clinch’s globally rare species.

The five goal areas are (click on each to view its Action Group webpage):

Regular meetings continue to be held as part of the clinch River Valley Initiative, with numerous community events planned for 2013 and beyond.  The Clinch River Valley Initiative originated at a forum in the fall of 2010 titled “Building Local Economies in Southwest Virginia,” and is coordinated by the Institute for Environmental Negotiation, at the University of Virginia, and with the help of numerous local, regional, and state partners.  The next meeting of the Clinch River Valley Initiative will be February 2014.

Click Here for a one page, printable description of the Clinch River Valley Initiative.

If you have ideas, questions, or would like to be added to the CRVI contact list for announcements of future meetings, please contact Christine Gyovai at christineg@virginia.edu or 434-924-0263.

Summaries of these meetings are available below:

A voluntary Steering Committee makes decisions by consensus about the growth and development about the Clinch River Valley Initiative, including all CRVI action group chairs.  A list of the CRVI Steering Committee representatives may be found below:

Jim Baldwin, Director, Cumberland Plateau PDC
Shannon Blevins, University of Virginia’s College at Wise
Todd Christensen, Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation
Pam Cox, Scott County Tourism Director
Rod Cury, Richlands Town Council
Carol Doss, Upper TN River Roundtable
Margie Douglass, Tazewell County
Brandi Hall, University of Virginia’s College at Wise, Entrepreneurship Coordinator
Geoffrey Hensley, Dominion
Douglas Jackson, VA Dept. of Housing and Community Development
Brad Kreps, The Nature Conservancy
Steve Lindeman, The Nature Conservancy
Linda Marshall, Russell County Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Director
Jack McLanahan, Southwest Regional Recreation Authority
Paul Revell, Virginia Department of Forestry
Ernie Roberts, Town of Cleveland
Randy Rose, VA Tourism Corporation
Kathy Selvage, Wise County Citizen
Walter Smith, University of Virginia’s College at Wise
Glen “Skip” Skinner, Director, LENOWISCO PDC
Terry Vencil, Castlewood High School and Project Estonoa
Lou Ann Wallace, St. Paul Tomorrow
Buzz Witt, Southwest Regional Recreational Authority

This project was made possible by the USDA Forest Service/VA Dept. of Forestry, the Dept. of Housing and Community Development/Appalachian Regional Commission, the Blue Moon Fund, and the University of Virginia for supporting this effort.

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