New River Valley residents care a great deal about the character of their communities. They value natural landscapes, beautiful views and rural character, as well as the Valley’s natural resources and open spaces that provide benefits through recreation and environmental quality. They also value the arts and community culture and take pride in the region’s history and unique identity. There is concern, however, that population growth, combined with sprawling development patterns will end up compromising the New River Valley’s natural assets and ecosystems, particularly the quality of its rivers and streams. Agricultural land is increasingly being shifted into housing and other forms of development, and residents are worried about loss of community character and a shared appreciation of the unique qualities that make the region so special.
Citizens said that they want the New River Valley of the future to continue to be a place of breathtaking natural beauty with plenty of wooded, mountainous landscapes, working farms, and fields of pasture and livestock. The New River itself should serve as the healthy heart of the region, yielding multiple benefits to residents: clean water, sustainable fish and wildlife habitat, recreation, natural beauty and economic opportunity.
People of the region also care about the quality of their air and water. This means choosing economic development options that create prosperity while practicing good stewardship of the environment. A healthy environment, it was argued, will help the region maintain its natural bounty as well as its unique identity while attracting newcomers and boosting tourism to the area.
There was a desire for a future with thriving downtowns throughout the region that will reflect the character of each locality and will have attractive, well-maintained buildings full of shops and restaurants. The hope is that these places will draw locals and visitors alike to engage one another and the available arts and cultural activities that meaningfully connect them to the local community and to the broader world. Visitors and new residents bring dollars into the region, creating jobs and raising standards of living.