Watershed groups and local government officials from throughout the Bay watershed will be gathering at the Chesapeake Watershed Forum Nov. 17–19 at the U.S. Fish & Wildlife National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, WV.

Goals of the regional forum are to strengthen the capacity of watershed organizations, highlight new tools and techniques, stimulate effective partnerships between watershed groups and local governments, and build capacity for more effective communication with the public about the importance of watershed stewardship.

To fulfill these goals, the forum will feature seven tracks over three days, including 41 sessions, three computer labs, eight facilitated discussions, two field trips and multiple networking opportunities. Topics will include: Emerging Issues, Watershed Science, Communicating the Message, Watershed Planning and Policies, Collaboration, Organizational Development, and Fund-raising

The keynote speaker for the session will be Peter Forbes, the co-founder and executive director of the Center for Whole Communities, an organization devoted to exploring and deepening the connections between land and the community.

Forbes has worked throughout the world to record and protect our human connections to the land. He is recognized across North America for building bridges between conservation organizations to nurture a new movement integrating health, justice, spirit and the relationship between people and the land. He has a national reputation as a champion to this cause because of his success with more than 100 conservation projects.

This will be the first gathering of its kind since 1997 and is a cooperative effort of the Anne Arundel County Office of Environmental and Cultural Resources, Back Creek Watershed Association, Cacapon Institute, Cacapon and Lost Rivers Land Trust, Chesapeake Bay Program Watershed Assistance Workgroup, James River Association, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, National Park Service, Potomac Conservancy, River Network, Watershed Alliance of York and of course, the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay.

Registration for the three-day event is only $90, including meals and lodging, thanks to the generous support of the Chesapeake Bay Program, National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, Western Pennsylvania Watershed Program and Town Creek Foundation.

The registration deadline is Oct. 31. For information, or to register, go to www.acb-online.org.