Blue Ridge Discovery Foundation
A center for rehabilitation and recovery
of threatened and endangered Reptiles and Amphibians.
A center for Science and Nature Education
helping the Student find their place in the Natural World.
A place for reflection on the Natural World, and our mental, physical emotional, and spiritual place.
Alex Netherton, Director
Blue Ridge Discovery is a nascent foundation with a few short term goals and a number of long term goals. Our first goal is to assess the population of Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina) in Western NC, and come up with a plan to rehabilitate injured Box Turtles, breed and “Head Start” Box Turtles in controlled and optimal conditions, and reintroduce these healthy individuals to prime habitat where they have become rare or nonexistent. Along with this is to begin a similar project on the critically endangered Bog Turtle (Glyptemys muhlenbergii ). This will naturally extend to other rare and endangered species, primarily Reptile and Amphibian and perhaps some plants. Our rehabilitation may extend to other animals depending on staff interests.
Our second goal is to open a school of Science and Nature Education where students can learn about natural process through a hands on direct approach, and along with other classes, help with the research on the animals in the recovery program. This will include a program for all ages where people can engage the natural world in their inward and outward search for understanding.
Phase I: The first phase will involve finding the necessary property to carry out our goals. It will need to have necessary infrastructure to begin operations as soon as it is acquired. It will need to have a building that can be used as a “Great Lodge”, with meeting rooms, a dining hall, and kitchen area. It will need cabins nearby that can be used as residences for school groups, retreat residences for visiting researchers, visitors, and for permanent staff. Staff residences should have a “home” atmosphere, with living quarters, bedroom, kitchen, and bath. The property must be dedicated year round to Blue Ridge Discovery. (The director has worked in many places where the property was used in summer as a summer camp. The summer camp always took precedence, though it used the property a minority of the time. Since we plan to have operations throughout the year, this point is perhaps moot.)
We will begin setting up a program for assessing and documenting the Box Turtle population in Western North Carolina (they are classed by the IUCN as “vulnerable” throughout their range.) and the Bog Turtle (critically endangered), and begin setting up a rehabilitation center for injured and sick individuals (and getting the required license), and setting up a breeding facility, also with the proper licensing, of local caught individuals that are healthy and good breeding stock for producing releasable progeny.
At the same time we will begin working on a Science and Nature education program that will closely adhere to the curriculum of North Carolina and the neighboring states for grade level and collegiate courses of study, so that we may bring people in from all educational levels. We hope to have research opportunities also for all levels of study. Along with this there will be a study of the history of the Southern Appalachians, from the ancient Native Americans to the 20th Century, including traditions, folkways, and culture.
All this will require a great deal of money, and we will begin by acquiring a 501(c)(3) under the US tax code, so we can begin searching for donations. Help in starting the 501(c)(3) will be greatly appreciated.
We will be looking for people who wish to work with us in more of a partnership role, rather than as employees. Each person will be treated as a valuable member of our community. People who work with us will be provided a living wage, a health program, and will be treated as a partner. They will be with us year round, and this will be the way they make their living.
We will begin by soliciting funds through a couple of web sites like “kickstarter.com”, “startsomegood.com” and others. We will also ask for help from volunteers and staff members to write and solicit grants from interested organizations and contributors.
As a part of Phase I we will be looking for property as soon as we are able. The property will have several traits that are requirements for successful operation. We will need acreage or access to public lands in order to pursue our educational curriculum. We will need a fair amount of land to operate the main program, as a rescue and recovery operation will require woods, fields, and for Bog Turtles, a wetland. We will need a building that can be used as a main lodge, with fireplace and lounge area, conference and class room(s), cafeteria and kitchen. We will need buildings that can be used as temporary residences for people coming to the school, researchers, visitors, and permanent housing for staff. It will need buildings that can be used for other things as well.
Phase II is now only an idea, but might include in the future:
A year round private and alternative school that adheres to NC (or the state we settle in) curriculum criteria for grade level.
A full time veterinarian.
Rescue for more than reptiles, including birds and mammals.
We hope to begin soon, and welcome people who are of like mind to help out. Anyone with experience in setting up nonprofits are asked to please help.
Alex Netherton, director.