After more than a decade of informally working together, four local conservation groups have decided to officially partner up.

On Wednesday, it was announced that the Shenandoah Valley Network, Shenandoah Forum, Community Alliance for Preservation and Augusta County Alliance would form the Alliance for the Shenandoah Valley. This nonprofit organization would continue the work of the four organizations and advocate for local clean water, thriving communities, and rural landscapes, as well as serving as a hub for the partnerships needed for conservation work throughout Shenandoah Valley.

The alliance will serve six counties: Shenandoah, Frederick, Augusta, Page, Rockingham, and Warren. Kim Woodwell, who serves as an alliance director and coordinator for Shenandoah County, was pleased with the formation of the alliance.

“The merger is the result of two years of pretty rigorous meetings with our partners,” Woodwell said.  “We couldn’t be more thrilled to be part of the alliance and look forward to continuing our work in support of farmland protection, and sound land use and transportation planning — with the energy and strength of the new organization.”

Even though these four organizations are merging, Woodwell, who also served on the Shenandoah Forum, said that the forum would continue to focus on local conservation issues as part of the alliance.

“The forum will continue the approach we have always used to inform and engage our community on issues that impact the county’s comprehensive plan and its call to preserve agriculture and the rural character of the county,” Woodwell said.

Woodwell also said that the alliance would tackle regional issues including the wholesale widening of Interstate 81, which would put farmlands and historical battlefields at risk.

“Now, the alliance, speaking with one loud voice, will strongly advocate for the smart, incremental changes that will address the real safety and congestion problems on the interstate,” Woodwell said.

Other issues the alliance will tackle include supporting local agriculture, addressing the threats of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, and the protection of the local water supply.

Offices for the Alliance for the Shenandoah Valley are located on the third floor of the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation in New Market.