Water, Earth, Sky

Scott Shenk writes about the environment.

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Tippett leaving helm of Friends of the Rappahannock

John Tippett on the river in February, where the Embrey Dam once stood.

John Tippett on the river in February, where the Embrey Dam once stood.

As executive director of the Friends of the Rappahannock, John Tippett has been at the forefront of the river’s conservation efforts–from water quality, to low-impact development, to the prospect of fracking east of Fredericksburg–since he became the river conservation group’s third director in  1995.

But Tippett, 46, says he will be stepping down due to neurologic Lyme disease. In an announcement today, he says he has decided to step away from his executive director duties to focus on finding effective treatment. Staffers were told in a meeting Wednesday. Tippett said he began suffering from the  tick-borne illness in 2005, and has been fighting its symptoms ever since. For a while now, he’s been working part time, spending as much time as he can in the office and directing the organization’s many programs.

“This has been an incredibly hard decision to make, but it’s the right one for me, my family and the organization,” Tippett said. “Over the past two decades we’ve built an exceptionally talented staff of environmental professionals. We’ve grown from working in just the Fredericksburg region to serving the Rappahannock from the mountains to the bay.”

The FOR executive committee will begin a search  for a new executive director. Tippett plans to stay on until a new director is found, and will work in an advisory role, part time, after the search has concluded. See my story in Saturday’s Free Lance-Star for more details.