An 86-acre parcel along John's Creek in Craig County has been placed under a conservation easement through the Blue Ridge Land Conservancy. Photo courtesy of Kacie Shifflett.

Here’s a roundup of news briefs from around Southwest and Southside. Send yours for possible inclusion to

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Craig County land placed under conservation easement

An 86-acre parcel along John’s Creek in Craig County has been placed under a conservation easement through the Blue Ridge Land Conservancy, according to a news release from the organization.

The land, owned by Pat and Barbara Charlton, is mostly wooded and shares a boundary with the Jefferson National Forest. John’s Creek is a noted rainbow trout habitat that also is home to the James spinymussel and the yellow lance, both freshwater mussels.

The Blue Ridge Land Conservancy is a Roanoke-based nonprofit that has worked with landowners in Southwest Virginia since 1996.

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Public invited to regional meetings for Blue Ridge Parkway plan

The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation will host a series of public meetings in August to help formulate an action plan for Blue Ridge Rising, a regional planning effort for the gateway communities of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

According to a news release from the foundation, Blue Ridge Rising marks the first time in the Parkway’s 87-year history that all 29 parkway-adjacent counties in North Carolina and Virginia are working together to determine strategies for the region’s communities.

The initiative is organized by the foundation, which is the nonprofit fundraising partner of the Blue Ridge Parkway, with funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

The following meetings are scheduled in Southwest Virginia:

  • Galax: 3-5 p.m. Aug. 3, The Barn at Edwards Farm
  • Lexington: 3-5 p.m. Aug. 8, Hampton Inn
  • Roanoke: 3-5 p.m. Aug. 9, Hilton Garden Inn

Visit to register to attend. The meetings are drop-in style, so people can come at any time during the two-hour window. A social hour will be held following each meeting.

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State hosts workshop about Alleghany Highlands’ caves and karst landscape

The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation will offer a two-day workshop Sept. 7-8 in Clifton Forge for planners, officials and residents to learn about the caves and karst landscape of the Alleghany Highlands. 

The agency’s cave and karst team, in partnership with the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission, will teach participants about what’s beneath the ground between the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains and how it supplies water for people and wildlife.  

The workshop, also hosted by The Nature Conservancy in Virginia and the Cave Conservancy of the Virginias, is free of charge. The classroom portion of the workshop will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 7 at the Sharon Community Center in Clifton Forge. An optional field trip will be offered from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 8. Lunch will be provided both days and transportation will be provided for the field trip. 

Space is limited. To register, visit

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USDA announces $11 million in grants to Southwest Virginia health care projects

Federal grants totaling almost $11 million will help expand critical health care services in rural parts of Southwest Virginia.

The awards announced Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture are part of $129 million in Emergency Rural Health Care grants going to 172 organizations across the country.

Virginia awards include:

  • A grant of $5.1 million to the University of Virginia will help expand the Virginia Consortium to Advance Healthcare in Appalachia. According to a news release announcing the awards, the project will expand access to health care and telemedicine in Wise County and expand regional networks for training, education and communications. The team also will develop a plan to address pandemic emergency chronic illness and enhance the sustainability of rural health care. The total project cost is $6.8 million; the rest of the funding comes from Ballad Health, the Southwest Virginia Health Authority, UVa Medical Center and the UVa Center for Telehealth.
  • A grant of $850,500 to Bath County Community Hospital will help purchase a patient-side fluoroscopy and radiography system, an X-ray machine and an electronic medical records system subscription for the critical access hospital. The total project cost is $2.4 million, with the hospital is contributing the rest, according to the news release.
  • A grant of $5 million to the Mount Rogers Community Services Board will help increase the capacity to provide mental health, developmental disability and substance abuse disorder treatment programs in Smyth County, according to the release. A second eight-bed unit will be added to the Rhea B. Lawrence Recovery Center, and the crisis care center will be relocated from an off-site space to centralize treatments. The total cost of the project is $11.4 million, which will be covered by a loan, the proceeds of a capital campaign and program income.