In the northern Shenandoah Valley, Matthew’s Arm reaches out to the west of the Park and comes within a mile of joining hands with the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests. In the 1970s, right up under the crook of Matthew’s Arm, Fred and Christine Andreae decided to build their home and raise their family. “The Park was always our backyard,” says Fred.
They began, in a very quiet way, to become active in the life of the park in preserving the natural heritage of the area. Early on, they worked through the National Park Foundation to institute a Leave No Trace program at Shenandoah. They were also instrumental in convincing a number of their neighbors to follow their lead and place their land under conservation easement in order to help slow the pace of development and to preserve the natural charm of the area. That network of easements is now in place covering over 1,700 acres, providing wildlife with a bridge of preserved land between the Park and the National Forests.
Their little neck of the woods, where Warren and Page Counties come together, is “a really special place,” says Fred. “We wanted to help protect it, if we could. People come to Warren County and say ‘Oh, how beautiful,’ but then if everybody builds on a five acre lot, pretty soon that beauty is gone.”
Fred and Christine are consistent and committed donors to the Trust. When asked why, these quiet conservationists underline the value the park has to their locality and to their region. According to Fred: “The Trust is great. I’m a big advocate of trying to keep the money at home, for two reasons: one is that it protects and maintains this amazing place; two is that I can actually see the organization that I give to and know what it’s doing. Sometimes when you give, you can’t see the impact, whereas when you give locally, you can see the difference it makes. It’s much more satisfying that way.”