BERRYVILLE, Va. (AP) — As surrounding localities have steadily become more urbanized, Clarke County has remained largely rural and agricultural to the wishes of residents and officials alike.
Much of the work to keep it that way has been the responsibility of Natural Resources Planner Alison Teetor, who retired at the end of 2021. She spent 31 years with the county.
“I love the outdoors” and helping to preserve nature, Teetor said.
The county hired Teetor to be its geographic information system (GIS) specialist in February 1990. While the internet was still relatively new, she largely was responsible for developing the system and creating online maps needed for many county initiatives.
Then in January 1991, Teetor was promoted to natural resources planner. In that role, she became the county’s expert on nature, land conservation and water quality planning issues.
Originally from the Washington, D.C., area, Teetor graduated from Colorado State University with a bachelor’s degree in wildlife biology. She worked for the Colorado Division of Wildlife before joining the staff at Shenandoah National Park, where she did research on black bears and then became involved in mapping projects.
Her mapping experience there helped her get the GIS job with Clarke County, she said.
According to a resolution adopted by the Clarke County Board of Supervisors in her honor, Teetor was instrumental in establishing the county’s Conservation Easement Authority (CEA) and making its Easement Purchase Program successful.
So far, almost 8,700 acres have been preserved through the CEA’s efforts. Combined with almost 18,500 acres preserved through programs of the Virginia Outdoors Foundation, the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, the National Park Service and others entities, Clarke County has permanently protected almost 25% of its 113,920 total acres for future generations.
Teetor also has overseen numerous projects to protect and conserve the county’s natural and water resources. They include:
Developing a drought monitoring program and establishing a real-time groundwater monitoring network in conjunction with the U.S. Geological Survey,
Stream and watershed restoration projects intended to improve water quality,
Extending public sewer service to homes in Millwood, where 44% of of the village’s homes had unsuitable sewage disposal systems,
Continually updating the county’s Water Resources Plan,
Administering the county’s septic and well ordinances, and
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Developing energy-saving and recycling initiatives.
In addition, the resolution reads, “she has worked to obtain hundreds of thousands of dollars of grant funding … to support conservation easement purchases, historic preservation and projects related to watershed restoration” and reducing pollution.
Teetor refuses to take all the credit for those projects.
“It’s been a team effort,” she said, of supportive county officials and residents.
“This is an amazing community to work for and live in,” Teetor continued. “The community recognizes the need to preserve natural resources and its (scenic) beauty.”
“You don’t see that everywhere,” she said. Many places are more interested in economic development and growth, she added.
Asked what she is most proud of, she paused to think and then said the conservation easement and Millwood sewer projects.
The latter, she said, “helped improve people’s standard of living.”
Although she enjoyed her job, Teetor sensed it was the right time for her to retire.
“Thirty-one years just felt like it’s been long enough,” she said. While she is healthy and able, “I want to be able to enjoy the rest of my life.”