The Rolling Ridge Conservancy stewards a gem of protected land nestled between the Appalachian Trail on the Blue Ridge to the east and the Shenandoah River to the west. Our mission is to protect, preserve, and nurture this entrusted wilderness and ensure that human interactions with the land are sustainable, respectful, inspiring, and inclusive now and for generations to come. A volunteer board of trustees ensures that these 1500 acres are preserved through conservation easements and nurtured by thoughtful, effective stewardship and respectful use.
Nearly 1500 acres of land have been preserved since the 1970s, when a generous, forward-thinking Quaker family, the Niles, created a land trust (Rolling Ridge Foundation), and placed the land under conservation in the capable hands of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.
For over forty years, the Foundation operated through an all-volunteer Board of Trustees that managed the property and provided access and support to three organizations that offered educational, spiritual, and life-affirming programs, camps, and retreats. Conservation in the early years was more often a matter of abiding by the easement, doing no harm, maintaining trails, and ensuring that those who enjoyed the land did so in thoughtful, respectful ways. The Foundation provided a gentle framework for communication among three organizations that participated on the Board and provided financial support for modest administrative needs.
Recognizing that the forest ecosystem endures far more stress from climate change, invasive species, understory and habitat degradation, and loss of biodiversity, the Foundation commissioned a Forest Stewardship Plan for 2015-2025 with the help of a grant from the West Virginia Division of Forestry. A part-time land steward was contracted to mobilize volunteers and implement recommendations. To date the Foundation has planted native trees and shrubs, restored native plants along stream banks, built stream crossings, installed water bars along trails, and removed countless invasive species including barberry, oriental bittersweet, ailanthus and others.
In 2019 the Foundation began operating as the Rolling Ridge Conservancy, a name that better conveys our mission. In 2021, one of the partner organizations made the decision to end its work at Rolling Ridge and the land steward took a full-time job in Virginia. These changes have provided catalysts for RRC to reflect on the legacy of the past and look to the future thoughtfully and strategically to envision the next three to five years and beyond.
Our goal is to ensure the long-term sustainability and resilience of the Rolling Ridge Conservancy so it can steward, protect, and enhance the forests and streams in balance with the humans who enjoy and seek solace on this sacred land. Over the next five years, we intend to grow our capacity to meet the challenges and opportunities of land conservation, restoration, ecological stewardship, and wilderness experience by building a dynamic infrastructure, a community of engaged supporters and partners, and stronger financial grounding. Click here to read more in our Strategic Vision document.
BOARD OF TRUSTEES
The board is composed of trustees from the partner organizations as well as at-large members. Trustees weave together a web of cooperative, mutually supportive relationships and provide respectful, responsible governance for the Conservancy. Click here to view the current Board of Trustees list.
Partner organizations have a cooperative agreement with RRC to offer educational, spiritual, and life-affirming programs, camps, and retreats on the land. They are central to the mission of RRC, especially in embodying our commitment to wilderness education and hospitality.
Friends Wilderness Center offers regularly scheduled spiritual programs and hiking opportunities as well as overnight hospitality. The China Folk House offers cross-cultural programs in experiential education, folklife studies, and environmental sustainability: friendswilderness.org
Study Retreat Associates (also known as Rolling Ridge Study Retreat) offers hospitality to individuals and groups at the Retreat House and structured retreats on themes like nature and soul, wilderness education, and meditative arts. The residential community keeps an active presence as caretakers of the land, the Retreat House, and guests: rollingridge.net
A third partner has historically run an outdoor education center. We are pursuing bringing in a new partner organization with a strong camp program that would serve youth from the whole region, emphasizing outreach to kids with fewer opportunities to experience wilderness.