VOF seeking input for development of new grant initiative

The Virginia Outdoors Foundation (VOF) Board of Trustees will meet on August 22 at Boar’s Head Resort in Charlottesville to consider draft criteria and guidelines for a new grant initiative being administered by VOF on behalf of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The initiative is funded by mitigation agreements between the Commonwealth and the developers of two large natural gas pipelines and addresses forest fragmentation resulting from pipeline construction. The first round of grants will be available for projects in a region affected by the Mountain Valley Pipeline. A grant round for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline region is expected next year.

As one of the agreements’ Forest Mitigation Partners, VOF is responsible for developing grant criteria and overseeing the project selection process. VOF is developing two funds, one for each region, which will be housed in a new program. These funds will each have their own application and selection process. Draft documents outlining criteria, scoring, and guidelines for the first fund, called the Forest CORE Fund (MVP Region), can be downloaded here.

VOF has placed a high priority on public engagement and community participation in developing the initiative. Over the past three months, staff have been traveling through impacted communities meeting with local governments, planning districts, land trusts, and conservation partners seeking ideas on how to best address forest fragmentation, as well as the needs of the impacted communities. VOF has also been soliciting feedback from other state agencies on how to structure and administer a strong grant program based in science but built with community support.

VOF is making the draft documentation available to the public prior to the August 22 meeting in hopes of receiving additional public input. There is no deadline to provide input, but VOF is encouraging people to provide written comments by noon on August 21. Input received after August 22 will be reviewed and considered for subsequent grant rounds.

Please direct input or questions to Emily White, ewhite@vofonline.org, (434) 282-7154.

Jason McGarvey is VOF's communications and outreach manager. He is based in the Richmond office.