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Donors finance Rapidan Mill fixup for Orange nonprofit

An Orange County conservation nonprofit will be able to renovate the Rapidan Mill’s former office as its new headquarters.

The Center for Natural Capital announced Tuesday that nearly two dozen donors have provided the financial capital for its project, within 20 days of the May 11 barbecue it held at the historic site.

The mill’s owners, Robert O’Brien and his son, Kevin, added a second story to the office in anticipation of the arrival of the center’s executive director, Michael Collins, and his staff.

By fall, the office overlooking the Rapidan River should house the center’s three current programs. Those are StreamSweepers, a river-cleaning project begun in 2013; SoilKeepers, a “soil-based” landscape contracting business; and the Central Virginia Wildlife Habitat Cooperative, which supports wildlife habitat along the Rapidan.

Later this year, also at the new location, the center said it hopes to launch two initiatives:

• The Rapidan Institute, dedicated to improving the resilience of Eastern rivers and landscapes, through education, outreach and landscape design. It will begin its work with the Rapidan and Robinson rivers.

• Millrace Discoveries, offering K-12 and educator programs for area public and private schools about the importance of rivers in man-made and natural ecosystems.

“With this move, the Center continues the development of its own social, ecological, human, built, and financial capital—all needed in balance for the sustainability of any modern human enterprise at any scale,” the group said in its statement.

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