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NFWF's Regional Collaborative Spotlight Series Resources and Invitation
Chesapeake Bay restoration practitioners and stakeholders convened for a five-part series that explored and elevated understanding of what constitutes effective, regional-scale collaborative approaches for Bay restoration, including the key factors that contribute to their success and how collaboratives evolve, adapt, and mature to sustain progress.  The series was especially developed for conservation partners interested in NFWF’s Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reduction (INSR) Grants Program, to provide insights on what makes for a competitive, INSR-ready collaborative restoration proposal.

Each session and accompanying resources are now available online at the links provided below.

Interested in participating in an upcoming online community-of-practice to network with other Chesapeake Bay-based practitioners who are building, leading, or participating in regional collaboratives?  Or are you interested in discussing a future grant proposal that focuses on a regional collaborative? If yes, please provide your information on the form at the end of this page.
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Session 1 Regional Collaborative Partnerships - Raising the Bar for Improving Water Quality
View session materials at:

Description: The National Fish & Wildlife Foundation and US EPA have strategically invested through the Innovative Sediment & Nutrient Reduction program in "regional water quality collaboratives" based on research and evidence that shows that these partnerships are especially effective mechanisms for achieving and sustaining water quality improvements.  What factors contribute to ensuring the success of a collaborative?  How can partners improve growing and maturing well-functioning collaboratives that result in measurable, accelerated water quality improvements?  In what circumstances is a collaborative the right mechanism for approaching an environmental challenge?

Presenters:  Jake Reilly, Director, Chesapeake Bay Programs, NFWF; Kristina Weaver, Associate Director, Institute for Engagement & Negotiation, UVA;  Jennifer Miller Herzog, Eastern Division Director, Land Trust Alliance;
Session 2 Interstate Regional Collaboratives: Grazing and Wetlands - Mission and Evaluation
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Description: Even before receiving nearly a $1M investment from NFWF in their respective Innovative Nutrient & Sediment Reduction programs in 2018 and 2019, respectively, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) conducted extensive work in building collaborative approaches around high impact practices for the Chesapeake Bay watershed landscape.  For CBF, the collaborative was an offshoot of earlier work with a Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG), scaling up to convene partners and facilitate a PA-MD-VA network for promoting and improving   precision and rotational grazing.  For TNC, the focus on wetland restoration grew from water quality and habitat work and conservation investments across the Delmarva and Pennsylvania.  Both efforts recognized a need for building broader networks to reach new audiences and stakeholders to achieve lasting water quality benefits.  These collaboratives have strong missions and visions, but also have opportunities for deploying evaluation as a mechanism for improving overall sustainability and longevity of their efforts.

Presenters:  Beth McGee, Director of Science and Agricultural Policy, Chesapeake Bay Foundation; Amy Jacobs, Program Director, The Nature Conservancy

Session 3  Basin Watershed Collaboratives: Riparian Buffers and Herding Cats - Relationships and Policies.
View session materials at: :

Description: Nearly 25% of Virginia's land base and 1/3 of its human population is in the James River watershed, and it even includes a bit of West Virginia. In contrast, the Rappahannock River basin emanates from the east side of the Blue Ridge and encompasses less than a third of the land base that the James River claims.  But in both watersheds, the diversity of rural, forested, and urban landscapes present a wide array of water quality challenges and opportunities associated with these land uses.  The James River Association has divided its collaborative efforts between tidal and non-tidal zones, focusing on a riparian buffer consortium approach to partnership building in the Piedmont, Blue Ridge, and Valley and Ridge provinces.  The Friends of the Rappahannock have elected to build their collaborative from ridge to coast, in a tighter landscape that in relative shorter order, flows from Piedmont to tidal areas.  Both collaboratives acknowledge that relationship-building is critical.  And both collaboratives, as home-grown and community-based organizations, must work to build and facilitate policies to ensure partners with varying interests remain vested and at the table.

Presenters: Amber Ellis, Senior Watershed Restoration Manager, James River Association; Bryan Hofmann, Deputy Director, Friends of the Rappahannock
Session 4 Urban Collaboratives: Targeting Cities and Interesting Infrastructures - Motivation and Capacity
View Session 4 resources at: :

Description: The Elizabeth River Project, focused in one of the most populated areas of Tidewater, Virginia, has long been considered among the gold standard of collaborative approaches.  Upstream James River in Richmond, the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay works closely with the City departments to saturate public spaces with green infrastructure, in a quest for clean water across all city water-based programs in an initiative known as RVA-H2O.  The efforts are quite different yet both work in highly urbanized areas to effect change in behavior and policy and to build alignments that support sustainable water quality improvements.  As the political winds shift across local political landscapes, how do urban-based collaboratives build a lasting commitment to fund and address persistent and growing stormwater, sea level rise, and  restoration and mitigation challenges?

Presenters: Joe Rieger, Deputy Director – Restoration, The Elizabeth River Project; Nissa Dean, Virginia State Director, Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay
Session 5 Agricultural and Rural Collaboratives: The Shenandoah Valley - Resources, Relationship, and Effective Process
View Session 5 resources at:

Description: For years, the Shenandoah Valley has been a focal point for collaborative approaches, dating back to the Waste Solution Forum, a successful agricultural and environmental conservation joint effort to convene partners around building stronger solutions for livestock and manure management, and the catalyst of the Smith Creek Partnership, one of three 2010 "showcase watersheds" in the Chesapeake Bay, demonstrate how dedicated and focused  collaborations can accelerate water quality improvement.  Both the partners that launched the Alliance for the Shenandoah Valley as well as Virginia Tech Extension and researchers, have made great strides in advancing collaborative approaches and yet, this portion of the Potomac River Basin remains a critical hotspot for nutrient pollution.  The building, re-building, and re-imagining of collaboratives requires an understanding and appreciation of past efforts with an eye towards how to do the job better and sustain it over time.

Presenters:  Kate Wofford, Executive Director, Alliance for the Shenandoah Valley; Rory Maguire, Professor and Extension Specialist, School of Plant and Environmental Science, Virginia Tech
Are you interested in joining an online community-of-practice that will continue to share resources and discussion about regional-scale collaborative development and sustainability for water quality improvement?
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Would you like to schedule a time to discuss a regional-scale water quality collaborative proposal that you plan to develop for NFWF's next RFP with a field liaison?  (NOTE: Field liaisons are technical advisors who provide NFWF field-based support for grantee project development and implementation.  There is no cost to you or your organization to discuss a project with a field liaison.  This service is provided by NFWF.)
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