Two Montpelier-based environmental organizations announced Wednesday they're teaming up to put a little more political muscle behind the causes they support.
The move unites the Vermont Natural Resources Council, a policy-focused organization, with the Vermont League of Conservation Voters, whose specialty has been electoral politics. The two groups will share financial resources, office space and some board members, according to VNRC executive director Brian Shupe (pictured at right), who will head both entities.
"After a pretty long and deliberative process, both boards decided it was in both of our interests a couple months ago," Shupe says. "They have a pretty successful track record of reaching the grassroots. They would call them voters. We call them the grassroots. But we're all Vermonters."
The League's influence in Vermont politics has waned in recent years. It's been without an executive director since Andrea Stanner left to head Rural Vermont in December 2011, and it largely sat out the 2012 election cycle.
That soon could change.
Shupe says he plans to hire a political director to head up the League's electoral and lobbying work, which will reflect the VNRC's policy priorities. The League is also shortening its name to "Vermont Conservation Voters."
"We're hoping that having our policy being furthered by the Conservation Voters in the legislature will make us a more effective organization," Shupe says.