This is the first in a series of profiles of member groups of the Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance.

Cowpasture River Preservation Association

The Cowpasture River flows through some of western Virginia’s most scenic, rural landscape.  Beginning in Highland County, it flows south through Bath, Alleghany, and Botetourt Counties for over 80 miles.  At Iron Gate, it joins the Jackson River to form the James River.   “It may well be Virginia’s cleanest river and its crystal clear, cool waters have soothed the souls of residents and visitors alike for centuries,” so states the website of the Cowpasture River Preservation Association (CPRA).  And CPRA’s goal is to keep it that way.

CPRA was formed in 1972 by group of advocates for the river who felt that there were impending threats from large governmental and corporate development projects either underway or planned for the local region at that time. Over the years, the mission of protecting the river has remained the same, but its objectives have grown from one primarily of advocacy to, at present, encompassing educational and water quality monitoring programs as well as outreach activities.  All are designed to inform the public about best practices in good watershed stewardship.

A prominent program of CPRA is the water monitoring it regularly conducts on the Cowpasture and some of its tributaries. The program includes seven monitoring stations within the Cowpasture River watershed., which CPRA trained volunteers sample for macrobenthic invertebrates every six months and bacteria and water chemistry monthly.

The CPRA was one of the co-hosts of a meeting in July 2014 that led to the organization of the Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance.  At the time, the then proposed route of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) crossed the Cowpasture once, upstream in Highland County.  With the re-routing of the ACP into Bath County in February 2016, concerns about the impact of the proposed pipeline on the Cowpasture became more pronounced.  The current proposed route of the ACP would cross the Cowpasture once and would traverse some of its tributaries 6 times.

A number of CPRA members have been prominently active in ABRA.  CPRA’s current President, Dick Brooks, serves on the ABRA Board of Directors, the ABRA Steering Committee and serves as Volunteers Chair for ABRA’s Compliance Surveillance Initiative (CSI) program.

To learn more about the Cowpasture River Preservation Association, including joining or supporting it, visit their website:

Who is ABRA? Cowpasture River Preservation Association
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