Former hunt club protected near Paw Paw
More than 2,500 acres of forestland overlooking the Potomac Bends near Paw Paw have now been protected, reports the West Virginia Division of Forestry and The Conservation Fund.
The announcement ends a seven-year effort that included cooperative efforts by the West Virginia congressional delegation and the U.S. Forest Service.
“The proper conservation of this land has far-reaching benefits that will be appreciated beyond the borders of our state and by many future generations of West Virginians.” said Governor Joe Manchin.
“Present and future generations will continue to receive timber, wildlife and water quality benefits from this working forest.” said Randy Dye, director of the West Virginia Division of Forestry.
Was a hunting club
Used for many years by the Tri-State Sports Club for hunting, the property provides habitat for white-tailed deer, black bear, grey squirrel, fox squirrel, turkey, ruffed grouse and other species common to this region.
The previous owner also had timbering conducted by professional foresters. Opportunities for timber management and harvesting will continue. The property will be managed through a Forest Stewardship Plan.
Given its proximity to the Washington metropolitan area,
the property had been eyed for development. In 2003, The Conservation Fund, with support from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, purchased the land from Wally Moore, Jr., and worked with the State of West Virginia to permanently preserve the property.
“This protects both sides of Sideling Mountain, which rises between the Potomac and Cacapon rivers, not far from Cacapon Resort State Park and Berkeley Springs,” said Reggie Hall of The Conservation Fund.
“With its captivating views, prime wildlife habitat, excellent forestry opportunities and invaluable natural resources, this property had been a high priority for conservation, and we’re glad we could work with the state of West Virginia and the U.S. Forest Service to make it happen,” Hall said.
With bipartisan support in Congress from the late U.S. Senator Robert Byrd, Senator Jay Rockefeller and Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito, the state received federal funding to purchase a conservation easement on the property.
The easement permanently restricts the type and amount of development that can occur on the land. This allows the property to remain privately owned while ensuring opportunities for hunting and long-term forestry.
“Forest preservation and sustainable forest management are critical to Chesapeake Bay water quality recovery and restoration,” said Nancy Ailes, director of the Cacapon & Lost Rivers Land Trust.
“We are working to protect connected parcels in Morgan County adjacent to the Cacapon State Park, eventually connecting the park to this parcel,” Ailes said. “When adjoining parcels are protected, the sum of the conservation values is greater than isolated tracts of protected land in a sea of development.”
“This project dramatically expands the conservation of the forested slopes and critical high ridges of Morgan County that are so important for watershed protection and for migrating wildlife,” said Peter Smith, president of the Potomac Valley Audubon Society, which oversees the Eidolon Nature Preserve on Sideling Hill.
The Conservation Fund currently owns the land but intends to sell it to a conservation-minded individual or group. Regardless of who owns the property, it will be protected by the conservation easement.
The Forest Legacy Program, administered cooperatively by the U.S. Forest Service and the West Virginia Division of Forestry, protects significant forestland from conversion to non-forest uses through use of conservation easements.