Celebrating 25 Years of Protecting the Potomac River

Where it all started

It’s been said that to know where you’re going, you have to know where you’ve been. Take a walk down memory land and discover some important milestones and achievements that our supporters made possible. Thank you!

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Concerned by inappropriate development, clear cutting, and other activities that were having a negative impact on the unspoiled character of the Mather Gorge, the Canoe Cruisers Association (CCA) devises a strategy to stabilize these development trends and forever protect the essential character of the Gorge landscape. The CCA forms an ad hoc Potomac Gorge Preservation Committee — the predecessor to Potomac Conservancy.



It became clear a qualified legal entity was needed to hold conservation easements and to monitor them over time. The committee transforms into a nonprofit land trust, now known as Potomac Conservancy. The Conservancy was incorporated on August 24, 1993, in Maryland as a nonprofit corporation.

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Potomac Conservancy places its first conservation easement on Minnehaha Island, donated by the Midriver Club. We now hold over 80 conservation easements throughout the region, protecting more than 15,000 acres of wild places. Learn more about our land protection efforts >



The Conservancy hosts its first Potomac River Cleanup with over 100 volunteers. Since then, more than 44,000 volunteers have donated their time for clean water. Volunteer and get your hands dirty for clean water!



Volunteers attend the first annual Growing Native seed collection. We have donated over 41,000 pounds of native seeds to state nurseries for future tree plantings.

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Potomac Conservancy stewards the River Center at Lock 8, beginning a 15-year partnership with the C&O Canal National Historical Park.

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The Catalogue for Philanthropy recognizes Potomac Conservancy as one of Washington, DC’s best nonprofits, a distinction we still hold today. (2005-2018)

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Potomac Conservancy releases the first State of the Nation’s River report and grades the river’s health a D+. See if the grade has changed at www.potomacreportcard.org.



The Conservancy helps K-12 students plant trees on school grounds across Frederick County, MD. In just seven years, students plant over 6,400 new trees.

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Land Trust Alliance recognizes PC as an accredited land trust.



Over 5,000 local residents urge Congress to fund research on endocrine disrupting chemicals in the Potomac. To date, we’ve mobilized 15,180 clean water activists.

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Potomac Conservancy and local conservation partners help pass two, precedent-setting laws to protect roadside trees and increase the tree canopy in Montgomery County, Maryland. Learn more about our Clean Water Advocacy efforts in the region.

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The Conservancy launches our Paddle the Potomac series, inspiring over 1,300 local residents to get their feet wet and have fun on their hometown river. Visit our Events Page to sign up for our summer Paddle series!



Over 6,300 local residents sign our petition calling on Trump National Golf Course to replace the 450 trees it clear-cut along the Potomac River.

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Potomac Conservancy purchases White Horse Mountain, halting construction plans on a 1,700-acre riverside forest in West Virginia.

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The Conservancy and our allies successfully advocate for $78 million in state funding for Virginia farmers, providing critical resources for best management practices that protect stream health. Learn more about our Clean Water Advocacy priorities >

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In the 2018 State of the Nation’s River report, the Potomac earns a B, its best health grade in ten years. In response, the Washington Post Editorial Board calls on Congress to defend the region’s clean water funding.

photo courtesy of william macfarland, www.macfarlandphoto.net

photo courtesy of william macfarland, www.macfarlandphoto.net


Potomac Conservancy transfers ownership of White Horse Mountain to the state of West Virginia. The new park will open in fall 2018 to the public for hiking, bird-watching, and other recreational activities allowed within the site’s conservation goals. Learn more about White Horse Mountain >


More about Potomac Conservancy

Potomac Conservancy is the region’s leading clean water advocate, fighting to ensure the Potomac River boasts clean drinking water, healthy lands, and vibrant communities. The Conservancy combines the grassroots power of over 23,000 supporters and online activists with local conservation and advocacy initiatives.

The Conservancy is registered in the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia, and is an easement holder in Maryland's Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program. The organization is a sponsoring member of the Land Trust Alliance (LTA), and has formally adopted the LTA's Standards and Practices for its own policies and procedures. Potomac Conservancy received formal accreditation in 2010 by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission.

Learn more about Potomac Conservancy's current activities by visiting our Healthy Lands, Clean Water Advocacy, and Community Conservation pages!