Valley Conservation Council Has a New Executive Director

For more than thirty years, the non-profit Valley Conservation Council, or VCC, has been working to protect land for future preservation.  It’s an accredited land trust that last year alone permanently protected over 3,200 acres of land and over ten miles of rivers and streams through conservation easements.

Adam Schellhammer is the new Executive Director of the VCC.  He grew up in Pennsylvania and managed a conservation district there.  He recently worked in New Zealand with watershed protection and watershed restoration programs.   He is now looking forward to his work with VCC.

“I think with our mission we have the opportunity to reconnect people to the land in a way that other organizations might not be able to,” says Schellhammer.  “Whatever we can do to create that sense of place and reinforce that connection of people to the landscape and not just for recreation, but for food and for livelihood.  I think that’s something we can do with our mission.  It’s something I’m really keen to get started on.  In addition to that, I think land preservation offers us a lot of opportunities in the way of addressing food security issues.  We’ve seen issues with supply chains and limitations of what products are available at what times.  And I think one of the key things that came out of the last couple years is how do we create local food sources and part of that is protecting agricultural land.”

Schellhammer says VCC has had great support from donors, landowners and partner agencies and he is excited to support the long history of preservation in this area.

“We just want to continue on with the mission and that’s protecting the landscape, protecting land, getting land under easements and purchasing properties where appropriate and working with our conservation partners, like soil and water conservation districts and other governmental entities to help restore landscapes,” says Schellhammer.   “If farmers need financial assistance for fencing or planting or things like that, we are going to continue that work to collaborate to make sure that we can offer homeowners and landowners whatever they need to meet their conservation goals.”

VCC serves the greater Shenandoah Valley region, including Bath and Highland Counties.  It protects both cultural and natural resources.

“If you want to simplify it, we kind of have our base needs as human beings,” says Schellhammer.  “That’s food, water, shelter and two of those we can handle with the work we do.   So, if we do our job correctly, we can ensure that we have clean and abundant drinking water in perpetuity and also that we’ve got a food system secured and we’ve got a local food source.  There’s only so much open space left.  What we would encourage is high density development in our urban centers and being able to maintain that rural landscape as it is.  During lockdowns, in the recent pandemic, people really started to see the mental health, healthy aspect of being able to get outside and just really soak in the outdoors.”

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Story By

Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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