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RACC responds to VOF resolution eliminating House Mountain management agreements

30 June 2015
Contact Info:
Barbara Walsh, Executive Director
Rockbridge Area Conservation Council (RACC)
P.O. Box 564, Lexington, VA 24450
Lee Merrill, Co-President
Rockbridge Area Conservation Council (RACC)
For Immediate Release: June 30, 2015
Lexington, VA

The Rockbridge Area Conservation Council (RACC) is disappointed and frustrated
by last Thursday’s action by the Virginia Outdoors Foundation (VOF) Board of
Trustees to adopt a Resolution which unilaterally attempts to terminate the House
Mountain Agreements of 1988 and 1989. VOF and RACC signed those
Agreements to preserve and protect House Mountain in perpetuity for the benefit
of future generations, but now VOF has decided it does not have to uphold its
long-standing contracts with RACC.
The RACC Board of Directors will meet on July 2 to consider what action is
necessary to uphold the principles of the original House Mountain Agreements, to
honor the promises made to the thousands of donors who made the purchase of the
House Mountain Preserve possible, and above all, to ensure the protection of
House Mountain in perpetuity.
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The original House Mountain Agreements have stayed in force amicably and with
effective results for more than a quarter of a century. The success in preserving
House Mountain has been due in large part to the House Mountain Management
Committee, the public-private partnership established by the original Agreements
which provides local expertise and allows for significant cost savings.
House Mountain Management Committee members include RACC, VOF, Virginia
Military Institute (VMI), Washington and Lee University (W&L), and three
appointed individuals. The House Mountain Management Committee’s
responsibility for preserving the Mountain has been carried out efficiently and
effectively by the hard work of community volunteers in managing the Mountain,
and the generous support of the Committee’s member institutions and
organizations, local businesses, individual donors, and Rockbridge County.
Following administrative changes at VOF, in early 2012 VOF developed a
management plan that included significant new directions in the approach to
managing the property. The new plan included timber harvesting to provide
income for developments such as parking areas, gates, signage, and possibly even
staffing. The House Mountain Management Committee created by the original
Agreements, discussed these concepts and found several of them to be inconsistent
with the goals to preserve the ecology and primitive setting of House Mountain.
VOF subsequently declared that the original Agreements and the management
partnership were no longer acceptable.
Since then, RACC and VOF have discussed a number of possible ways to address
VOF’s concerns, but VOF has been unwilling to commit to any changes short of
terminating the Agreements. By their vote last Thursday, the VOF Trustees have
now acted unilaterally in an effort to both terminate the Agreements, and assert
exclusive authority over House Mountain, in a contradiction of both the spirit and
purpose of the original management Agreements.
For more information, or to support the House Mountain effort, please contact
RACC at 540-463-2330 or, or visit

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