Captina Conservancy hosted over 40 attendees at its 2017 Watershed Initiative gathering held at the Olney Friends School Stillwater Science Center on Saturday January 14. The daylong session featured informative presentations, small group discussions and brainstorming, and ended with a session of action planning.
The following, a short glimpse of Belmont County history, was written by Barnesville native John Thomas. In this reminiscence he recalls growing up at a time when the surface mining industry, (locally known as “strip” mining), worked its way across much of the county. John graduated from Olney Friends School and Wilmington College, and he recently retired from a career in the building construction business in North Carolina.
Raven Rocks, Inc. was formed in 1970 as a corporation to purchase and preserve the scenic ravines surrounding the Piney Creek valley in the southern edge of the Captina Creek watershed. In addition to negotiating with the nearby American Energy coal mine to leave a substantial coal seam untouched under the primary ravine known as Raven Rocks, owners have recently placed over 1,000 acres of this sub-watershed in a conservation easement held by Captina Conservancy.
Rich Sidwell, Executive Director
Looking Ahead to 2016 and Beyond
Eight directors in addition to Executive Director, Rich Sidwell and Captina Creek Watershed Coordinator, Kim Lawson met for the first formal Captina Conservancy board retreat on January 16, 2016. The retreat focused on identifying and implementing the next steps toward building an effective land trust.
Held at the Stillwater Science Center in Barnesville, the morning session was facilitated by Jerome Iles. Jerry is the OSU Extension Educator for Agriculture and Natural Resources in Fairfield County; he has worked with multiple watershed protection organizations and is a member of the District 18 Natural Resources Assistance Council (NRAC) of the Ohio Public Works Commission.
Jerry led the group through a discussion of effective organizational structure, roles of board members, organizational staffing and committee structure, stakeholders in our efforts, and ways to increase community connections. We reviewed the importance of safeguarding our mission and not spreading our efforts too thin. We also looked at our funding sources and ways that we can ensure our operational efforts into the future.
The afternoon discussion, focused on near-term strategic goals for our group, identified several areas for our attention. These included engaging members and volunteers, mitigation and streambank restoration opportunities, policy updates and development, improving electronic communication, and outreach events. Task forces were created to work on board policies, communications, baseline and annual monitoring of easements, and event planning. The board approved the use of Constant Contact for enhancing email communications to our members and landowners.
It was a day well spent. New board members were glad for the board training in order to better understand their roles and responsibilities, while all found the time to simply interact about priorities and plans going forward an engaging process. It is difficult to provide time for these free ranging and important discussions during regular board meetings so occasional retreats such as this are very beneficial to the work of the Conservancy.
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