Champlain Valley Conservation Partnership

The Beginning of the Partnership
The CVCP formed in July of 2019 in response to regional municipalities recognizing the importance of the conservation of natural resources across municipalities.  The original municipal partners included: South Burlington, Williston, Shelburne, Hinesburg, and St. George.  An agreement was signed showing a commitment between the partners to work collaboratively together on the conservation and management of land at a regional scale.

Generally, the partnership agreed to the following:
  • Prioritize regionally significant parcels for conservation/protection & to identify potential actions that would conserve/protect the parcels identified.Mapped_Region
  • Identify "best practices" for the stewardship of conserved land.
  • Maintain the connectivity & integrity of forest blocks in an effort to promote biological diversity and allow for the movement of wildlife in response to climate and land use changes.
  • Improve the water quality of Lake Champlain by developing a strategy for wetland and riparian protection and/or restoration that can be applied throughout the partnership area.
  • Understand issues surrounding public access on conserved lands, and develop a plan that improves public access where appropriate and allows for connections throughout the partnership area where it makes sense.
  • Develop and apply a public engagement strategy that meaningfully involves our communities and other partners.
  • Share individual strategies currently in use within our own municipalities to conserve/protect land, stewards land, and engage the public so that the entire partnership can benefit from existing experiences and knowledge and pave the way for a shared conservation approach that is employed throughout the region.
The agreement was approved and signed by each municipality's Council or Selectboard. You can read the CVCP's signed agreement here.

What is a Regional Conservation Partnership (RCP)?
A regional conservation partnership is an informal yet organized network of people representing private and public organizations and agencies who work together to develop and implement a shared, long-term conservation vision across town and sometimes state and international boundaries.

The land trust movement was launched originally to help local residents and landowners conserve individual parcels of land.  As time has passed, land trust/agency partnerships emerged to protect larger or connected parcels.  In the 1990s, land trusts started establishing ongoing collaborations to move beyond "random acts of conservation" and to protect larger landscapes within watersheds.  These longer term collaborations often included town leaders, state and federal agencies, academic institutions, conservation organizations, and others.  We now call these conservation collaboratives Regional Conservation Partnerships (RCPs).

The RCP Network
In 2011, coordinators of RCPs across New England voiced an interest in forming an ongoing network.  The RCP Network was launched in March 2012, and is overseen by the Highstead Foundation.  The Highstead Foundation has surveyed RCPs, developed educational materials, and collaborated with regional partners to train and fund RCPs' on innovative practices to overcome challenges and move more quickly towards protecting land from development at a scope beyond what partners could do on their own.

In 2015, the RCP Network formed its first steering committee whose members led efforts to craft a shared mission, goals, and priority objectives.  They were also able to complete a guide to initiating and operating a new RCP.  This is a useful tool that has given guidance to the formation of the CVCP.

What is the CVCP working on?
The CVCP is currently focused on standardizing language used to identify conservation parcels throughout the region.  This is part of a mapping effort that will help identify conservation opportunities for the partnership.

CVCP Projects and project updates can be found at this link.  If you have questions about the partnership and its work, you can contact Ashley Parker, City of South Burlington, at: aparker@sburl.com, or 802-846-4146.