Author Archives: Elizabeth Elmore




The Regional Commission, in partnership Virginia Department of Forestry, City of Roanoke, City of Salem, Roanoke County, and the Town of Vinton is conducting an updated Urban Tree Canopy (UTC) analysis for the Roanoke Valley, which was last completed in 2010. A link to the full RFQ is here. Interested parties should contact Amanda McGee at amcgee(at) Quotes are due Tuesday, August 29th.

Edited on August 21, 2023: Please see the below response to questions received for further information regarding the RFQ. Response will also be published on the Urban Tree Canopy page of our website.

Urban Tree Canopy Questions Received August 17, 2023.

Roanoke Valley Collective Response Receives Funds from Virginia Opioid Abatement Authority  

Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission
Contact: Elizabeth K Elmore


Roanoke Valley Collective Response Receives Funds from Virginia Opioid Abatement Authority  

Roanoke, VA (June 27, 2023) — The Roanoke Valley Collective Response received $500,000 from the Virginia Opioid Abatement Authority to continue its work of building and expanding a regional recovery ecosystem. This funding represents the first year of a proposed five-year project. 

The Opioid Abatement Authority was established in 2021 by Virginia’s General Assembly to disseminate funds from the National opioid settlements, with $23 Million in grants being issued state wide this year.

“The Commission is pleased to expand the impact of its newest regional program, the Roanoke Valley Collective Response, and appreciates the support of the Virginia Opioid Abatement Authority in furthering this important work across the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Region,” said Regional Commission Chair Phil North.

“The Roanoke Valley Collective Response is uniquely positioned to convene the best minds in the region to identify and develop effective solutions,” said Lee Clark, Chair of the RVCR Advisory Committee. “This funding will help us continue to provide technical assistance to localities in abating opioids and improving the health of our communities.”

The Cooperative Partnership grant with the City of Roanoke and Roanoke County addresses barriers which include housing, transportation, and stigma reduction as part of a successful recovery ecosystem. The proposal will be achieved by supporting the individualized and collective needs of the localities as well as raise the visibility of the Collective Response to foster increased participation and collaboration across organizations. The project will also aim to improve visibility and compatibility among data systems across the medical, planning, and emergency response sectors to enable more effective data sharing and reporting. 

“Roanoke County is pleased to support the City of Roanoke and the Regional Commission in seeking this important investment from the Virginia Opioid Abatement Authority,” said Richard Caywood, Roanoke County Administrator. “This funding will further assist the Collective Response in pursuing the array of services, educational efforts, and programs that best meets the needs of Roanoke County and all our regional partners.”

“We are excited to see the City’s initial commitment to the Roanoke Valley Collective Response result in this new investment that will expand and deepen the work of this important program,” said City Manager Bob Cowell. “We’re further pleased to join our partners in Roanoke County and beyond to support a truly regional response to the growing crisis of addiction.”

Additionally the Roanoke Valley Collective Response provided technical assistance to the City of Roanoke in identifying and prioritizing individual project needs totaling $252,867. These projects include training on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), a peer recovery specialist for the Sheriff’s Office & Adult Detention Center, xylazine test strips and lab equipment for prevention and harm reduction efforts, marketing campaign for the “warm line” at Blue Ridge Behavioral Healthcare, as well as naloxone and training for Fire & EMS.


A program of the Roanoke Valley Alleghany Regional Commission, the Roanoke Valley Collective Response is a multi-sector initiative working across systems to solve the opioid and addiction crisis across the region. With goals of collaborating across multiple disciplines, educating the community, and implementing recovery-oriented solutions, RVCR ultimately seeks to tackle the root causes of addiction crisis and implement regional solutions to abate the substance use disorder crisis. RVCR is comprised of over 230 members and 150 organizations across 11 localities.   

The Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission (RVARC) is one of 21 regional planning agencies in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Member governments include the counties of Alleghany, Botetourt, Craig, Franklin and Roanoke; the cities of Covington, Roanoke, and Salem; and the towns of Clifton Forge, Rocky Mount and Vinton. The mission of the Regional Commission is to be a leader in driving collaboration and strategy within our communities on issues that are critical to the economic growth, quality of life, and the sustainability of this region.


Help RVARC plan for travel in the region by taking the Regional Travel Survey

The Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission (RVARC) wants to learn how you get around the region. Your feedback will help identify gaps and opportunities for travel in the region and inform how RVARC plan for travel needs and priorities. By sharing your thoughts and opinions, you will make your voice heard and help improve transportation options for you and others in the area.

Take the 10-minute survey by June 15 for a chance to win a $100 dollars gift card.  The survey is available in English and Spanish.

RVARC hired PRR, Inc. to conduct this survey. Please contact them with any questions about the survey at You can also reach the RVARC team by contacting

Notice of Opportunity for Public Comment 2023 Annual Update of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS)

Notice is hereby given that the public is extended an opportunity to review and comment on the proposed 2023 Annual Update of the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS). The public comment period will be in effect for no fewer than 30 days from the publication of this notice. An official public hearing on the Annual Report CEDS will be held at the June 22, 2023 meeting of the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission at 3:00 pm. If you would like to view, request, or seek further information on the draft document, contact Eddie Wells at the Regional Commission, Ph: (540) 343-4417, Fax: (540) 343-4416, or email: Hearing impaired persons may dial 711 for access. View the draft CEDS document and other project information at

Check your mail for the Regional Travel Survey invitation!


Keep an eye on your mailboxes! The Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission (RVARC) is inviting households across the region to complete a survey.

RVARC has hired PRR, Inc. to conduct this survey through random selection. That means that households across the RVARC service area will receive an invitation in the mail to complete the survey. 

This survey will help us better understand your needs and priorities for travel in the region. RVARC will use information gathered through the survey to improve travel and transportation options for the region.  We randomly selected households in the RVARC region. Survey participants (18+ years) will have a chance to win a $100 gift card.

Feel free to contact them with any questions about the survey at You can also reach the RVARC team by contacting  

Cristina Finch, Director of Transportation, to lead National Capital Region Transportation Plan

Cristina Finch, Director of Transportation, to lead National Capital Region Transportation Plan
Cristina leaves the Regional Commission after over twelve years of service

Cristina Finch, a lead transportation planner with the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission for over twelve years, and Director of Transportation for the past six, will be leaving the Regional Commission to become the principal planner behind the National Capital Region’s transportation plan for the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. Cristina’s last day with the Regional Commission will be April 7th.

“Cristina has been the driving force behind a number of critical and transformative regional planning efforts during her tenure at the Regional Commission,” says Executive Director Jeremy Holmes. “Her insight, intelligence, and attention to detail has successfully shepherded through projects looking at everything from the region’s transit vision to bike and pedestrian facilities analyses, to the allocations made via the annual Surface Transportation Block Grant program.”

Among Cristina’s major accomplishments was the recent Roanoke Valley Transportation Plan update, which included not only a thorough documentation of the region’s transportation needs and the priorities to address over the next 20 years, but a significant overhaul of the overall technical and decision-making process used to help decide where and how Federal dollars are applied to transportation projects in Roanoke’s urbanized area. The update, which started before the COVID-19 pandemic, wrapped up earlier this year.

Cristina stated, “I am very proud of the collaborative work accomplished during my time at the Regional Commission to advance the transportation planning and programming process. Most importantly I am happy to have contributed to making life better for people through transportation advancements.”

The Commission staff and members of its supporting transportation technical committees and policies boards wish Cristina well in her new endeavors in the National Capital Region.

The Regional Commission will be advertising for the Director of Transportation position in the coming weeks at

Public Input Opportunity for Transportation Investments in the Roanoke Valley

The Roanoke Valley Transportation Planning Organization (RVTPO) is seeking public input on transportation funding requests through the Surface Transportation Block Grant program. Please take the survey here.

The survey is now closed! Thank you to everyone who participated.

Comments will be accepted until Wednesday, March 1, 2023, and public hearing will be held at 1:00 pm on Thursday March 23, 2023, at 313 Luck Avenue SW, Roanoke VA.  


Regional Commission Hires Director for Roanoke Valley Collective Response

Regional Commission Hires Director for Roanoke Valley Collective ResponseRoanoke, VA (February 14, 2023)- The Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission named Robert Natt as the new Director of the Roanoke Valley Collective Response, providing key leadership in our region’s response to the addiction and mental health crisis.

Natt has been involved with the Collective Response since its inception in 2018, serving as a founding member of the Steering Committee and current member of the Collective Advisory Committee.  He has previously served as a Marketing Consultant for Carilion Clinic, a Partnership and Business Development Director for the Vinod Chachra IMPACT Lab at Radford University, as well as President of his own firm, Robert Natt Productions.  Natt additionally serves as President of the Board of Directors for the Partnership for Community Wellness (formerly the Prevention Council of Roanoke).

Natt holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Commercial Media and Communication from James Madison University, a Master of Science degree in Nonprofit Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Certificate in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

“It is an honor to serve our region in such a meaningful capacity,” said Natt.  “I look forward to continued collaboration with stakeholders to build community, enhance services, and offer hope to those who need it most.

“Robert’s deep history with the program up to this point, plus his vision for its growth to provide services and coordination across our entire service area, will be critical in positioning the Collective Response to access the resources necessary to assist our member localities in addressing issues of addiction and recovery,” said Jeremy Holmes, Executive Director of the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission. “The role of the Collective Response as a convener and coordinator of the regional response to the addiction crisis has never been more important.”

Lee Clark, CEO of the Rescue Mission and Co-chair of the Collective Advisory Committee said, “Robert’s understanding of complex community issues and collaborative leadership style are a perfect fit for what this role demands.  His vision for the future and focus on the present show that he is committed to addressing the immediate challenges of today while working with other regional organizations to build a brighter future for tomorrow.”

Phil North, Board of Supervisors member for Roanoke County and Chair of the Regional Commission added, “We’re excited to see Robert take this important role on the Commission’s leadership team, and the breadth of skills and experience he brings to help the organization support its membership outside of his work with the Collective Response.”

Natt plans to focus his first several months on the job in partnering with localities and organizations to increase collaboration, and pursue funding opportunities through the Opioid Abatement Authority. Natt’s first day with the Commission will be February 16th, 2023.

Regional Commission named Gold Level Bicycle Friendly Business

The Roanoke Valley Alleghany Regional has earned recognition as a Gold Level Bicycle Friendly Business from the League of American Bicyclists! 

We’ve joined nearly 300 local businesses, government agencies, and Fortune 500 companies across the United States designated at the Gold Level. This cohort is transforming the American workplace to be more welcoming to our customers and employees who bike. So many more have joined or returned to the bike movement during the pandemic, and we are proud to support the health and well-being of our community by being more welcoming to people choosing to bike.

“This round of awardees features shining examples of current and aspiring Bicycle Friendly Businesses working in tandem to boost the number of places in their community where traveling by bike is not only possible but encouraged,” said Bill Nesper, executive director of the League of American Bicyclists. “We hope that more businesses, nonprofits, public agencies, and other organizations will continue to build off one another’s efforts to improve bicycling and employ this holistic approach to building a Bicycle Friendly America for everyone.”

 The Bicycle Friendly Business award recognizes an organization’s contributions over months and years to the movement to build a Bicycle Friendly America for everyone.

Learn more about the League’s Bicycle Friendly Business program at If you have feedback on how we can continue to be even more welcoming to people who bike, don’t hesitate to let us know. 

Bicycle Friendly Business is a Registered Trademark of the League of American Bicyclists; used with permission.

2022 State of the Bay Report

The Chesapeake Bay scored a 32 on the 2022 State of the Bay report. This is the same score the waterbody received on the 2020 State of the Bay report. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) issues a biennial State of the Bay report that analyzes the best available information about the Chesapeake Bay cleanup efforts. The report uses a number of indicators to determine how progress has been made. This includes looking at levels of pollutants like nitrogen and phosphorus as well as population numbers of oysters, rockfish, and other keystone aquatic species. Each indicator is given a score and associated grade. Those scores are used to determine the overall health index of the Chesapeake Bay.

The largest score jump came from the oyster category, which had a score increase of five points. Oysters are important members of the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem. They filter sediment and nutrients from the water, provide habitat for juvenile rockfish and other fish species, and are a staple of the region’s food culture. The blue crab’s score dropped five points, representing the largest score decline out of all indicators.

Image 1. 2022 State of the Bay Indicator Scores.

When the first State of the Bay report was released in 1998, the Chesapeake Bay scored a 27 (D). Scores have been up and down over the years, but the long-term trend shows that cleanup efforts are having an impact on the health of the Chesapeake Bay and the watershed as a whole.

The Chesapeake Bay would receive a score of 40 (C) if the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint were to be fully implemented. This means that enough Best Management Practices have been installed to help the Chesapeake Bay reach its cleanup goal. A milestone has been set to have all practices installed by 2025. The cleanup effort would need to see great acceleration to achieve this goal. Watershed partners have stepped up their efforts to make a push to reach the goal. The James River Association and Chesapeake Bay Foundation operate a cost-free tree planting program for Upper and Middle James River Watershed landowners. Landowners who would like to see more trees planted along streams on their property can enroll in the program to establish riparian buffers on their property. Virginia lawmakers have also worked to pass legislation that supports cleanup efforts. The 2021 General Assembly session saw hundreds of millions of dollars become allocated towards wastewater treatment facilities in need of upgrades. These improvements will enhance the treatment process and reduce pollutant loads coming from treatment plants.

Image 2. State of the Bay progress graph.

The Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission is supporting the cleanup effort by facilitating conversations about the Chesapeake Bay and finding opportunities for communities to complete water quality improvement projects. Learn more about water quality initiatives in the area at Contact Gabriel Irigaray,, for more information about how to complete a water quality improvement project in your community.