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Because many of these announcements are posted well in advance of the event, please consult the contact person before attending to confirm details.  Please also check the EcoEvents Calendar for additional details, other items, and updates.

Rockbridge Area Events:

Wednesday, March 1 – Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL) Meeting, 5:30 p.m. in Elrod Commons Room 116, W&L Campus.  Discussion will include the recent proposal from Republicans for addressing Climate Change (See: https://www.nytimes.com.  For those interested in learning more about our organization go to www.citizensclimatelobby.org or email lexington.va@citizensclimatelobby.org.  For more information about the meeting email Tessa Horan at horant18@mail.wlu.edu.

*Thursday, March 2 – RACC Board Meeting, 4:30 p.m. in the RACC office meeting space, 2nd floor of the Wells Fargo Bank Building, 101 South Main Street, Lexington (enter the vestibule and go through the door to your right and up the stairs). Jim Jones, Superintendent of Natural Bridge State Park, will be our guest at the March Board Meeting.  Members and guests always welcome. For further information, contact Barbara Walsh, Executive Director, at 463-2330 or racc@rockbridge.net.  

Saturday, March 4 - Monthly first Saturday Bird Walk, 8:00 a.m. at Boxerwood, 963 Ross Road, Lexington.  Meet at the upper parking lot to spend about two hours walking the varied habitats of the garden. Sponsored by the Rockbridge Bird Club.  Members record the different avian species that live year-round, migrate through, and breed in our woodland garden’s diverse wildlife habitats Free and open to all.  Bring binoculars.  If you have questions, please call Kerry Kilday at 561-389-9612.

Saturday, March 4 – Maury River Water Monitors Pot Luck Dinner, 4:00 p.m.  There will be a presentation by Paul Low, and updates and scheduling for training/certification with Jay and Sandra. And, of course, questions, suggestions, discussion.  Then we eat! Chicken chili and wine will be provided. Please add whatever you want. And, please come whether or not you have something to bring -- there will be plenty.  For those who have not responded: PLEASE let Sandra know as it makes prep much easier and less wasteful.
As you may know, things are changing at Virginia Save Our Streams (VaSOS) and the most current information about what that means for our local water monitoring group will be presented ... mainly a change in net size for which we fortunately have grant money.  Call Sandra Stuart at 463-5663 to RSVP, if you need directions or have questions.  Looking forward to seeing you on March 4th.

Monday, March 6 – Mountain and Valley Solar Co-op First Informational Meeting, 6:30 PM at the Old Courthouse Meeting Room, 2 S. Main St., Lexington, rear entrance.  VA Sun, RACC, and other partners in Rockingham, Augusta, and Rockbridge have decided to form the Mountain and Valley Solar Coop to see if we can add to the already impressive totals of home and business solar panel installations in this part of the state.   Co-ops can bring the costs to home and business owners down through the power of group purchasing and installation.  All are welcome to attend and learn more.  For more information, please contact Bob Biersack at janandbob@verizon.net, and visit http://www.vasun.org/.
Tuesday, March 7 - Faculty Environmental Panel and Student Policy Debate at 5PM in the Hillel Multipurpose Room, at W&L, Lexington, VA.  This event with sponsored by W&L SEAL and CCL.   Mark it on your calendars! Details to follow.   For more information email Tessa Horan at horant18@mail.wlu.edu.

Tuesday-Thursday, April 4-6 – Environment Virginia Symposium: Virginia's Environment, Shaping a Sustainable Future at Virginia Military Institute, Lexington, VA.  Virginia's Premier Annual Environmental Conference since 1990.  As many as 700 environmental professionals attend this conference from all over the State and from every sector of the environmental industry.  Both experienced professionals and newcomers to the symposium attend and enjoy the mutual exchange of ideas, best practices and knowledge.  For more information please go to: http://www.vmi.edu/about/center-for-leadership-and-ethics/conferences/environment-va-symposium/ or contact Derek Pinkham at pinkhamdj@vmi.edu.

Events Beyond Rockbridge:

Tuesday, February 28 - - VA Renewable Energy Alliance at Roanoke College, 12:30 – 4:00 p.m. at Roanoke College, 221 College Lane, Salem.  This event is hosted by the Virginia Renewable Energy Alliance (VA-REA) – the title is “Addressing Virginia’s Energy Gap with Renewables”.   The half-day event will focus on how to fill Virginia’s electric utility – projected energy gap (as noted in their 2016 IRP's) with renewable energy, featuring two interactive panel presentations with renewable energy industry experts from around the Commonwealth, and networking opportunities with renewable energy stakeholders.  There is a registration fee of $25 for non-VA-REA members. You can register here to reserve your seat at the event. Student discount available.  Please direct questions to VA-REA's Executive Director, Jesse Reist at jesse.reist@va-rea.org
Tuesday, February 28 – Public Comment Sessions on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP), 5:00 – 9:00 p.m. at the Highland Center, 61 Highland Center Drive, Monterey.  The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) invites interested groups and individuals to attend and present oral comments on the draft EIS.  The draft EIS is available for public viewing on the FERC’s website at http://www.ferc.gov.
Comments can also be filed electronically using the eComment or the eFiling feature under the link to Documents and Filings on the Commission’s website at http://www.ferc.gov.  Or you can file a paper copy of your comments by mailing them to:
Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
888 First Street NE, Room 1A
Washington, DC 20426
All comments need to be received by April 6, 2017.  For more information contact David Harbor at david.harbor@gmail.com.

Tuesday, February 28 - L​​eague of Women Voters CVA Community Dialogue​: “Nourishing Alternative Energy”, 11:30 am to 1:30 pm,  5th Street County Office Building (South of I-64​, 1600 5th Street​), Charlottesville, VA.  Although it’s probably true that most citizens say they like the idea of alternative sources of energy and can recite reasons they don’t like the way our country is powered today, we should know more about the topic if we’re to be informed and effective citizens.​
​                ​Speakers will discuss what we might expect in the near future, what role government, state and​local, is playing in the development of alternative energy sources, and what we as citizens can do to​ influence energy sourcing.  Based on their experiences, they will walk us through the processes of developing some types of non-fossil-fuel energy. They will also share their knowledge of the regulatory frameworks surrounding potential alternative energy sources and offer their views of what needs to change. (Are existing rules effective? have unintended consequences?)   To conclude, everyone can join in a discussion of what we as citizens can do.  For more information, please contact John Cruickshank at jcruickshank4@GMAIL.COM.

Wednesday, March 15 - "Facing the Surge" (Climate Change in Virginia), 7:00 p.m.,
McIntire Room of the Central Library on East Market St. in Charlottesville
.  Facing the Surge documents the tangible costs of sea level rise for the people of Norfolk, VA. Norfolk is home to the largest naval base in the country and to thousands of hard-working Americans struggling to adapt to the rising tides and an uncertain future. But Facing the Surge is not a film about loss and inaction. It tells the stories of citizens from across the United States as they step forward to raise awareness and push their government to solve climate change.  This 25 minute movie will be followed by a discussion of the effects of climate change in Virginia and around the world.  Sponsored by the Piedmont Group of the Sierra Club.  For more information, please contact John Cruickshank at jcruickshank4@GMAIL.COM.

Friday, March 24 - Shenandoah Valley Plant Symposium 2017, 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. at the Best Western Inn and Conference Center, 109 Apple Tree Lane, Waynesboro, VA.  Presented by Waynesboro Parks and Recreation.  Join us as we present A Gardener's Palette. We'll dip your brush in a variety of topics: permaculture, food, art, natives, and new selections. The event offers something for everyone from novice home gardener to experienced horticulturist. In the end, we'll have a canvas filled with colors and perspectives to consider and put in practice.   For more information and for early bird registration until January 3 click on these sites: Get more information and Register Now!Or contact Stephanie Seltzer at 540-942-6735 or events@ci.waynesboro.va.us.

Tuesday, March 28 – Pipeline Fighters (film), 7:15 PM, FREE, The Grandin Theater, 1310 Grandin Road, Roanoke, VA  24015.  This is a FREE event sponsored by Preserve Giles County, Preserve Roanoke County and Preserve Franklin County.  There will be a Q & A session afterwards with the sponsors and the filmmaker. 
Pipeline Fighters voice their opposition to interstate pipelines in the Virginias for the transport of fracked gas to export terminals, and abroad. Natural gas procured through unconventional hydraulic fracturing, has been the gold rush of the last decade. Pipelines are needed to move this massive glut of natural gas. Through the voices of the Appalachian people we explore in microcosm the global issue of environmental predation, the legacy of the energy industry, their current production goals to DOUBLE the development of natural FRACKED gas coming out of the Appalachian Basin, and the great relevance this has on the geo political scene and climate change.  For more information please contact the theater at 540-345-6377 or info@grandintheatre.com, or the organizers at http://preservefranklin.org/, https://www.facebook.com/PreserveGilesCounty/,  and http://preserveroanoke.org/.    

Saturday, April 8 - 2017 Honeybee Symposium.  Highlands Beekeepers Association in Abingdon, Virginia is coordinating the 2017 Honeybee Symposium on April 8th, 2017 at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center in Abingdon, Virginia. We have attached an email flyer and brochure, if you can send them to anyone interested in attending.
Well known bee experts Jerry Hayes, Sam Comfort, and Jerome Blankenship will be presenting their ideas on beekeeping stewardship and how they have kept bee losses to a minimum. We have 501©3 vendor spaces available for $50 which includes the registration fee.
Cost of the 2017 Honeybee Symposium is $40 which includes a box lunch, certificate of completion, and membership in the Highlands Beekeeper Association. Contact the Washington County Virginia Extension Service at 276-676-6309 to register or www.highlandsbeekeepers.com.  For more information, please contact Philip Ernst, Chairperson, 2017 Honeybee Symposium at piplinda@embarqmail.com.


Invasive Plants Project at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute:
The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute is looking for landowners willing to allow for non-intrusive surveys to be conducted on their land. These surveys are part of a study on invasive species in forests. Invasive species cause extensive damage to forest systems and are difficult to manage once established. If we can identify why invasives establish more readily in some forest patches and not others, we may be able to predict where they are likely to establish next or where they might cause the most damage. If successful, this knowledge would allow land managers to direct the use of their limited resources at the places most in need.
We are focusing our project on forested habitat within 15 counties in Northwestern VA. Conveniently, the PRISM area fits completely within this. In these forested areas, we are recording the presence and absence of a suite of 13 invasive plant species (Ailanthus (tree-of-heaven), Garlic mustard, Porcelainberry, Japanese Barberry, Oriental bittersweet, Autumn olive, Chinese privet, Japanese honeysuckle, Japanese stiltgrass, Wavy leaf basket grass, Mile-a-minute vine, Kudzu, Multiflora rose). We have been successful in finding existing occurrence data and recording our own within the largest forested areas, e.g. Shenandoah National Park and the George Washington National Forest, but really need more representation from smaller forested areas in the Valley and Piedmont areas.
Landowners in the region can contribute to our efforts if they have forested land in their property that either completely includes or shares a forested path of a minimum of 14.5 acres in size. In other words, so long as there is enough of the forest patch for us to sample within a volunteer's property, we can successfully sample for our target species. This is because our surveys are only conducted between 60-75 meters into any given forest patch. We need forested patches of varying size that include AND do not include invasive species. Presences and absences are equally valuable to our research.
Our surveys take 1-2 hours per site and are non-intrusive. We only collect data, so, it's like we were never there. Aside from recognizing the contribution of landowners, and if they so desire, keeping them in our network for potential future surveys, we do not save any personal data. And, the only information that is distributed is the ecologic information we collect. Surveys are conducted between May and September. At this time, and unless a volunteer would like to participate in other field surveys we have, we only sample a site once.
We are particularly interested in conducting surveys in Augusta, Albemarle, Orange, Culpeper, and the very northern portion of Frederick County. But, really, any land owners wishing to participate, with forested property of minimum size, within the Valley and Piedmont, are encouraged to contact us.
If interested, please contact Dr. Lacher at LacherI@si.edu. She will place the volunteers in contact with our Invasive species field coordinator for this year.
Atlantic Coast Pipeline - Action Needed to Support our National Forests
     We need your help to protect one of the wildest, most intact forests in the East.  Dominion’s proposed 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) would cross 21 miles of the George Washington and Monongahela National Forests. Ask the Forest Service to reject Dominion’s efforts to shortcut the process for pipeline approval and Forest Plan amendment.
     Before the ACP can be built across the national forests, the US Forest Service must (1) issue Special Use Permits and (2) amend forest management plans. To make these decisions, the Forest Service must review the impacts of the project according to the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act and its own procedures. 
     On December 30, 2016 FERC published an incomplete and inaccurate Draft Environmental Impact Statement that fails to address many Forest Service and public concerns. On December 13, 2016 the Forest Service wrote to FERC describing its own procedural requirements for reviewing the ACP application, including a timeline that is longer than FERC’s schedule for project permitting. The Forest Service stated that, prior to making decisions on the project, all requested and needed data and plans must have been submitted and disclosed to the public.
     It is critical that the Forest Service stay committed to the process and professional standards it upholds as stewards of our public lands. Dominion has repeatedly requested “expedited” review of this complex project which has so much potential to negatively impact both public and private lands.
     We are asking you to voice your support for the U. S. Forest Service’s commitment to its requirements for a careful, thorough review of the pipeline application.
Send statements of support to Forest Service Chief, Thomas Tidwell, ttidwell@fs.fed.gov   and Regional Foresters, Kathleen Atkinson, katkinson@fs.fed.gov and Tony Tooke, ttooke@fs.fed.gov.  
Copies should also be submitted to FERC (to be included in the administrative record). Submissions can be made through http://www.ferc.gov . The docket number is CP15-554. Click on Documents and Filings
and use the eComment feature. Or send by mail to: Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary, FERC, 888 First Street NE, Room 1A, Washington, DC 20426.

Braiding the Way for Outdoor Recreation in the Rockbridge Area Survey.  Do you enjoy spending time outdoors?  Braiding the Way for Outdoor Recreation in Rockbridge invites you to participate in an online survey. The survey will help us increase opportunities for outdoor recreation activities in our area. Please include your email address for an opportunity to win prizes! The survey will remain open for participation until July 31, 2017.   To participate, use the following link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/outdoorrecreationrockbridge.

The Economic Impact of Bicycling in the Central Shenandoah Valley.  Bicycling tourism in the Central Shenandoah Valley region is estimated to have generated $8.6 million in sales activity in 2015.  The total economic impact of bicycling tourism, including multiplier effects, is estimated to have been $13.6 million that supported 184 jobs in the region in 2015.  For the full economic impact analysis click on http://www.cspdc.org/documents/BikeEIA_Rev1_Sept2016.pdf.

Help Make the Cardinal a Daily Train - Our National Network Is Only as Strong as its Weakest Link -
The Cardinal Rail Service connects 32 stations across 11 states, but it only runs three days a week. It means only three days of ticket revenue for Amtrak. It means only three days of connectivity for passengers, and four days of inconvenience and confusion. Amtrak estimates that daily service would double ridership along the line, and increase the revenue per passenger by a third.   The National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP) is coordinating a campaign of thousands of grassroots activists in communities all along the train's route to try to make this happen. It's good for passengers, it's good for communities, and it's good for business. Add your name to the list at http://cqrcengage.com/narp/app/sign-petition?0&engagementId=248793 .

Earlier this summer, NARP launched a campaign to secure a daily Amtrak Cardinal Service for communities such as ours that benefit from this service.  Locally the Cardinal connects the Rockbridge area to Washington and NY via Staunton and Charlottesville.

Last week, overflow crowds of state Department of Transportation representatives, federal officials, advocates and other partners gathered in Cincinnati to talk about a Daily Cardinal. At this meeting, NARP President & CEO Jim Mathews delivered luncheon remarks, highlighting NARP's grassroots efforts.  For more information contact NARP, 505 Capitol Court NE Suite 300, Washington DC 2002 or 202-408-8362 or go their website at www.narprail.org .

Recycling Containers Available through RACC –RACC and the City of Lexington recently received a Keep Virginia Beautiful grant of $1000 to buy 15 portable Clearstream containers designed for recycling trash at public events.  The special program, called 30 Grants in 30 Days”, was designed to address issues related to litter prevention, recycling, waste reduction, beautification and education of the public.  The grants this year were sponsored by Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation and MeadWestvaco.  RACC will facilitate this loan program and track the quantity of recyclables collected.  Call RACC at 463-2330 to reserve containers for your event.


Wednesdays - Lexington Farmers Market, 8:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. winter farmers market in Dunlap Auditorium.  Dunlap Auditorium is located in Murray Hall adjacent to Lexington Presbyterian Church and is best entered in the rear of the building off Randolph Street.  Parking is available at the Rockbridge County Courthouse parking garage and the parking lot behind the county administration building.  For more information contact Mitch Wapner at mitch@paradoxfarm.org.

“Please note that events listed on this calendar are sponsored by a variety of organizations, and are provided as a service to members of RACC and the community.  Listing on this calendar does not imply connection with or endorsement by RACC.  If your organization has a conservation-related event that you would like to submit for inclusion on the calendar, please send the announcement by e-mail, formatted as the examples in this calendar, to: Barbara Walsh at racc@rockbridge.net.  Please also include in the announcement: the name of the sponsoring organization, contact person, and phone number and e-mail address for further information, along with the words “Calendar Request” in the subject line of the e-mail.”