Our Virginia Outdoors Sends Letter to Governor Youngkin
August 22, 2023
VIRGINIA – Our Virginia Outdoors has sent Governor Youngkin a letter with a comprehensive list of all the programs that recommended for increased or initial funding. Our Virginia Outdoors strongly urges the establishment of dedicated sources of revenue for natural resources so that all of these needs can be met on an ongoing basis with stable, predictable levels of funding. The coalition’s mission is to promote Virginia’s outdoors for all, and to ensure that everyone has access to Virginia’s natural resources.
What They Are Saying: Leaders Across Virginia Join Our Virginia Outdoors
July 31, 2023
VIRGINIA – Our Virginia Outdoors, a coalition of land trusts, trails advocates, outdoor recreation user organizations, Virginia Indian Tribes and conservation groups, announced its official launch during June Outdoors Month. The coalition’s mission is to promote Virginia’s outdoors for all, and to ensure that everyone has access to Virginia’s natural resources. They pursue this mission by establishing the importance of outdoor recreation, advancing dedicated funding for natural resources, shaping policy solutions, and building a diverse and strong coalition.
Leaders from across Virginia are joining the coalition. Here’s what they’re saying:
“From Shenandoah National Park to Fort Monroe National Monument and everywhere in between, Virginia is blessed to have 22 national park units within its borders. These national parks experience more than 22.5 million visitors annually and they create more than $1.5 billion in economic output. National parks are a huge part of the Virginia outdoor recreation economy, and protecting and enhancing them should be of the utmost importance to Virginians. The National Parks Conservation Association is proud to partner with the Our Virginia Outdoors Coalition to promote outdoor recreation and conservation for all.” – Kyle Hart, Mid-Atlantic Program Manager for The National Parks Conservation Association
“The East Coast Greenway Alliance believes deeply in equitable access to the outdoors and is fortunate to be a part of Our Virginia Outdoors. Since we are an organization that works across 15 states and the District of Columbia, it is incredibly important to work closely with experts from across the Commonwealth in land conservation, outdoor recreation, and trails. We’ve witnessed the power of these partnerships and the interwoven nature of our various areas of focus with the Dock Street property in Richmond as it is not just a conservation project and a park but also a crucial segment of the East Coast Greenway (aligned on the VA Capital Trail) as it leaves/enters downtown. We could not ask for better partners and we are proud to be a part of Our Virginia Outdoors.” – Elliott Caldwell, Virginia & Washington, D.C. Manager for the East Coast Greenway Alliance
“The Conservation Fund is excited to work with Our Virginia Outdoors to increase funding for land conservation across the Commonwealth. As the most important, foundational asset for Virginia’s most important industries – tourism, agriculture, and forestry – land sits at the very base of our economy. It also sits as the cornerstone of Virginia’s mental and physical well being, providing a respite from daily life and a gateway to health and harmony with the Earth. By working to ensure sufficient funding is available to ensure the continued existence of this critical resource, Our Virginia Outdoors is laying the groundwork for a thriving and vibrant Virginia for future generations.” – Heather Richards, Mid-Atlantic Regional Director at The Conservation Fund
“Acknowledging a goal to ensure meaningful and equitable access to quality outdoor experiences for all Virginia residents and visitors, VCN has been supportive since the onset of the Coalition and its esteemed mission. One who genuinely knows and understands their environment is one who will care for it. To build a steadfast voice for conservation, a constituency of informed, engaged voices is necessary, crucial. This truly is Our Virginia Outdoors.” – Pat Calvert, Director of Clean Water & Land Conservation Policy & Campaigns at Virginia Conservation Network
“We are proud members of Our Virginia Outdoors. We believe the outdoors should be for everyone, and we work to connect people to our outdoor spaces. By joining Our Virginia Outdoors, we are able to amplify our mission through a movement that is bigger than us. Together we can speak with a louder voice to ensure the outdoors is accessible and welcoming for everyone no matter how you connect with our public lands.” – Kyle Lawrence, Executive Director of the Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition
“Conservation is for people as much as it is for the land. We are excited to be joining Our Virginia Outdoors to be able to help connect people to the outdoors, especially to the Valley we love so much. The outdoors is for everyone, and everyone should feel safe and welcome to explore it. It is a pleasure to work with Our Virginia Outdoors to amplify this message and to work across the state to promote the outdoors for all, forever.” – Wren Frueh, Office Manager and Program Coordinator of the Valley Conservation Council
“The Piedmont Environmental Council recently celebrated its 50th anniversary and adopted a new strategic plan that reemphasizes the importance of accelerating conservation and connecting people to nature in pursuit of stronger, more sustainable communities and healthier lands and waters. The importance of open space, working lands and waters as well as public recreation have never been more important. We are proud to join with this broad, diverse coalition to ensure Virginia’s outdoors can be enjoyed by all for years to come.” – Chris Miller, President, The Piedmont Environmental Council
“There are many organizations that advocate for the protection of Virginia’s natural resources. What is unique about Our Virginia Outdoors is the focus on providing access to nature for every current and future citizen and visitor. A diverse and growing array of people and groups are recognizing that we need dedicated funding to make sure that there are enough public lands and recreational resources for all.” – Nikki Rovner, Associate State Director for Virginia, The Nature Conservancy
Our Virginia Outdoors Coalition Launches During June Outdoors Month
June 1, 2023
VIRGINIA – Our Virginia Outdoors, a coalition of land trusts, trails advocates, outdoor recreation user organizations, Virginia Indian Tribes and conservation groups, announces its official launch during June Outdoors Month. The coalition’s mission is to promote Virginia’s outdoors for all, and to ensure that everyone has access to Virginia’s natural resources. They pursue this mission by establishing the importance of outdoor recreation, advancing dedicated funding for natural resources, shaping policy solutions, and building a diverse and strong coalition.
Virginia has a rich history of outdoor recreation, with over 40 state parks, numerous trails, and abundant wildlife. Our Virginia Outdoors recognizes the importance of preserving these resources for future generations, while also promoting the benefits of outdoor recreation to the economy, mental and physical health, and overall quality of life.
Maribel Castañeda has been selected to lead the coalition as their Coordinator. Maribel is a passionate public administrator with over a decade of experience in local and state government working in areas such as education, community development, board organization, and constituent engagement. She holds a master’s in public administration from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and a B.A. in International Affairs from James Madison University.
Prior to joining the Our Virginia Outdoors, Maribel served at the pleasure of Virginia Governor Ralph S. Northam as the Director of Appointments and the Director of Latino Outreach. In this role, she led a team that appointed the most diverse slate of appointments in the history of Virginia. She also served as the primary point of contact for the Latino community supporting historic legislation for the immigrant community.
“I am honored to work with this group of passionate leaders, and we are thrilled to launch Our Virginia Outdoors during June Outdoors Month, a time when many Virginians are enjoying the great outdoors,” said Maribel Castañeda, Coordinator for the coalition. “Our mission is to protect and promote Virginia’s natural beauty, and we believe that by working together, we can achieve this goal.”
The coalition plans to work with lawmakers, businesses, and community organizations to promote policies that protect Virginia’s natural resources, increase access to outdoor recreation opportunities, and support a thriving outdoor recreation economy.