Published June 29, 2017 2.09pm
Volunteers are calling on the public for help after being nominated for an award recognising the best of Lottery funded projects.
The five-year Heart of Teesdale Landscape Partnership brought together more than 800 volunteers,2,000 young people, 26 youth and community groups, and 280 landowners and farmers to help restore and rejuvenate south west County Durham.
Now it has been shortlisted for a National Lottery Award, with the winner decided by public vote.
Sarah Robson, Durham County Council's head of economic development and housing, said: "It is brilliant news that the achievements of the Heart of Teesdale Landscape Partnership has been recognised and we'd like everyone who shares our love for this beautiful area to vote for us.
"It would be wonderful recognition for the area and the Partnership to be named the UK's Best Environment scheme."
The National Lottery Awards 2017 sees 49 finalists - just two of which are from the North East - competing for votes across seven categories over four weeks, from Thursday 29 June to Thursday 27 July.
To vote for Heart of Teesdale visit the Heart of Teesdale National Lottery Award 2017 voting page.
Heart of Teesdale was a £2.7m project - supported with £1.6m of Heritage Lottery Fund money - that ran from November 2011 to October 2016.
It involved more than 23,000 people in 75 projects ranging from nature trails and walks, to the restoration of historical structures and plays acting out tales from Teesdale.
The wide ranging project also saw over 12,000 trees planted, 56 miles of path improved, bridges restored, and 1,524 people gaining new or enhanced skills, including ecological monitoring and farm building surveying.
Volunteer Ian Moorhouse, 74, said the project had given him a chance to make a long term impact in his local area.
"I've lived in Teesdale for 22 years and I feel proud to promote the area," he said. "But while we tried to get this project off the ground it looked unlikely to happen until we secured National Lottery funding.
"Now we have a long-term, sustainable conservation effort in place that will outlast this project."
Heart of Teesdale manager Alex Sijpesteijn said: 'Teesdale is an area of natural beauty with many historic and cultural sites of significance.
"Yet it can feel like the 'lost landscape' - often overlooked for the nearby Yorkshire Dales National Park and the North Pennines AONB.
"Now though, the area inspired the likes of Sir Walter Scott and J.M.W. Turner has inspired a new generation - And we hope the public will vote for us and recognise their incredible efforts."