Why Rappahannock?

To our environmentally conscious friends, RLEP is changing and growing!  Our website and logo are being updated and contact with our friends is going to be better.
We stand fully committed to Phil Irwin’s legacy of preserving the natural resources and rural character of Rappahannock County.  While visiting this website, please view the short documentary interview with Phil at the top. There is a good chance you will learn things you never knew about your county.
Remember us along with your other favorite non-profits as we head into our next 50 years as the oldest Environmental Organization in Rappahannock, and proud of it. Thanks and remember to support the many organizations that do so much for the people, animals and environment all year long in our beloved Rappahannock county.
All the best, Rick Kohler RLEP President


Rappahannock is a tiny dark spot in a sea of East Coast artificial light. 


RLEP has placed Dark Skies compliant lights, free of charge, at both Rappahannock County Schools, B&B Auto, The Corner Store, Shaw’s Services, Amissville Baptist Church and Hackleys Store and numerous others.  Numerous local residents have also made the change. These LED down-shielded lights are provided free of charge by RLEP and installed by professional electricians.  They enhance the view of the night skies for the entire community.

To participate in preserving Rappahannock’s night skies, call RLEP Dark Skies coordinator Torney Van Acker at 703-250-7943.

The Rappahannock Night Light

Preserving the natural resources and rural character of Rappahannock County


RLEP is, at it’s core, a group of connected, informed and engaged citizens who care deeply about protecting the natural resources and rural character of Rappahannock County.  Your membership ensures that you are part of this community of citizens.


Native Plants = Native Insects
      = Native Birds
     Broaden YOUR native species!

Sail Away?

What's Up
 Rose Breasted Grosbeak

Ruffed Grouse

 RLEP supports
Rappahannock Nature Camp
and provides scholarships to
Vesuvius Nature Camp


Pileated Woodpecker

Wild Turkeys

A River of Stories

Kaye Kohler is working with Tracy and Mathieu Mazza, documentarians and film makers, to record local residents, their stories of Rappahannock, what the county means to them, thoughts on the past, the future and whatever they want to say!  Our intent is to work with The Historical Society, RAAC and other groups to further this endeavor to preserve the culture and natural resource of early Rappahannock residents and their rivers of stories.

Call for details… or perhaps you know someone who might be interested or interesting!

IN 2016 & 2017

An RLEP committee chaired by board member Larry Wohlers took 39 Rappahannock families solar by forming a Cooperative for 20% savings on top of the 30% Federal Tax Credit for solar installations. Read More


A Hard Working
Trash Free Rapp Crew

TRASH FREE RAPPAHANNOCK is held in Earth Month (April). Orange Vests and Bags are available for roadside cleanup with free pickup by VDOT.  HELP KEEP RAPPAHANNOCK CLEAN AND BEAUTIFUL.   READ MORE

December 21, 2020  DARK SKIES EVENT at the Rappahannock County Park starts at 5:30 with a stellar presentation, followed by viewing of the stars and, in particular, the alignment of Earth, Saturn and Jupiter.  Saturn and Jupiter are moving toward alignment and on the 21st they will be so closely aligned that they will appear as one bright planet.  You can watch them draw closer over the next 30 days!

2020:  RLEP submitted numerous Rappahannock County Comprehensive Plan amendments to the Planning Commission, most of which are in the final PC draft currently before the Board of Supervisors for review.  We are closely watching Zoning Amendments currently underway.

There have been multiple Dark Skies events at the Rappahannock County Park this year.  Join us and get on the list!

The County Park was designated an International Dark Skies Park by the International Darkskies Association, believed to be the smallest Dark Skies Park in existence at only 6 acres!  This took a great deal of work and collaboration between the Rappahannock County Recreational Facilities Authority (RCRFA) and RLEP.  RLEP Board Member Torney Van Acker was instrumental in this accomplishment.


SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 28:  DARK SKIES EVENT at the Rappahannock County Park.  Enjoy interesting power point and other presentations as the skies darken and the telescopes get ready.  Bring your own binoculars or telescope! Telescopes will be available for viewing the planets and stars.  Suitable and fun for all ages. Starts at 6:30 pm at the Rappahannock County International DarkSkies Park on Rte 211 across from Washington, VA

FRIDAY OCTOBER 11  NASA Solar System Ambassador Greg Redfern will return for a presentation at the High School Auditorium to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first manned landing on the moon.  “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”.  Greg’s presentations are filled with photos and NASA generated images.  More information to come.


1.  Scholarships for Rappahannock youth to attend a two week educational session at Vesuvius Nature Camp (originally a Garden Clubs of VA project).
2.  Rappahannock Nature Camp financial support
3.  Stroll for the Soul   Walks through nature preserves or gardens of native plants and species to initialize, awaken or enthuse your spirit of conservation.
3.  Science News Magazine is supplied to the High School
4.  Forums on everything from forestry, to plants and wildlife to Dark Skies.
5.  Monitoring of the State Legislature and local Board of Supervisors with Actions taken as may be appropriate for environmental concerns.
6.  Representation is always present at the Board of Supervisor and Planning Commission Meetings.

If you are not yet a member, join us now.

PAST EVENTS: 2016 – 2019

May 18, 2019  7:00 PM  RLEP ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP MEETING at Quievremont Winery, 162 Gid Brown Hollow.  At the request of membership, RLEP focused on the county Comprehensive Plan this year.  Planning Commission member Rick Kohler was the keynote speaker on The Comp Plan for this event.  Hors d’oeuvres, wine and non-alcoholic beverages were served.

May 31 & June 2,  2:00 PM  Stroll for the Soul  Bruce and Susan Jones honored us with two Strolls for the Soul.  We learned about pollinators and the native plants they need to survive!  You can help save your native butterflies, bees and other pollinators!

May 4, 2019  7:00 PM Rappahannock County Park Event:  Celebration of the  Rappahannock County Park’s award of a Silver Tier Dark Skies Park designation from the International Dark-Sky Association! This is an achievement reached through the collaboration of the Rappahannock County Recreational Facilities Authority (RCRFA) and RLEP.   Despite rain showers, attendees enjoyed the speeches, presentations and light refreshments. This was the first of at least four Dark Skies events planned for 2019 at the Rappahannock County Park.

November 10, 2018  5:30 PM County Park:  Celestial viewing with telescopes and a power point on The Mars Rover.  People came dressed warmly and sipped hot cider, whiel nibbling on snacks and home made cookies.  A good time was had by all!  This was the 4th and last in our 2018 series of events at the Rappahannock County Park as we work with the Rappahannock County Park Authority on obtaining Certification for our little park as the Third Dark Skies Park in Virginia!

August 25, 2018:  Full Moon & Planet Viewing Event at Rappahannock County Park.  Astronomers were on hand with telescopes to view the planets and rising full moon!  A spotter scope was attach to cell phone cameras for a great shot of the moon to awe your friends, and we learn about the planets and had fun.  This event supported obtaining the International Dark-Skies Association (IDA) Silver Tier designation for the our county park as a Dark Skies Park.  There is only one other park in Virginia and few on the East Coast!

April 28, 2018: Greg Redfern, NASA Solar System Ambassador, returned for a new, fantastic, in-door power point display on the universe…“The Birth, Life and Death of Stars”.  Greg’s presentations are amazing, from the depths of the universe to the new James Webb telescope to 2017’s blockbuster “The Universe and You” attended by nearly 300 people. Location:  Castleton Festival Building, Castleton, VA. Supporting Dark Skies Over Rappahannock

April 14, 2018: Dark Skies presentation at the County Park across Rte 211 from Town of Washington.  Astronomers, telescopes and night star photographers entertained.

2017 Focused on Native Plants, Dark Skies and the Solar Coop

June 2017  A Stroll for the Soul began with a walk through the grounds of Hill House Native Plant Nursery.  2018-19 will explore Native Plant venues and other inspiring natural elements.  Watch for scheduling!  These will be fun with great information on how to support native plants, butterflies, bees and the native insects our song birds need to feed their young!

May 27, 2017: NASA Solar Ambassador Greg Redfern presented a lively and colorful tour of the Universe in the Castleton Theatre Festival Building in support of Rappahannock’s night skies and the Shenandoah National Park’s desire to be designated a “Dark Skies Certified Park”. FREE to the public.  280 people attended this amazing event.

2016 Kicked Off the Solar Cooperative, Starry Nights & the Butterfly Trail

2016 *Solar Cooperative*: RLEP took 39 local homes solar by contracting in bulk and soliciting low cost bids to augment the 30% federal tax credit. A new cooperative has formed to continue the project in 2017-18.

2016 Starry Nights in October three astronomers, two large telescopes, night star photography lessons and other exhibits took place at board member Larry Wohlers home near Amissville.
The Andromeda Galaxy, the Boy Scout star (actually two stars, one blue and one gold which make up the head of the Swan in the constellation Cignus), many constellations and millions of stars were on fine display.

2015: Butterfly Trail Bridge was built by RLEP board member Joe Keyser for the Town of Washington in support of native plants, insects & birds; an educational trail created by members of Old Rag Master Naturalists in conjunction with RappFLOW.

JOIN US in the preservation of Rappahannock County, a special place, … not achieved by accident!  We owe it to ourselves and future generations to be proper stewards of our beautiful environment.