Saving White Horse Mountain

The Backstory

White Horse Mountain is a 1,725- acre remnant of the thousands of forested acres once owned and managed by the Mead Westvaco timber company. When the land was used for timber, White Horse was open to the public via a lease agreement between Mead Westvaco and West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (WV DNR). In the early 2000s, Mead Westvaco sold its land holdings in the region, most of which were quickly purchased by developers.

White Horse Mountain was no exception. It was bought in 2003 by a Florida-based developer, who then platted the land for seventy 20-acre lots. However, the housing market crashed soon after, and in 2012 the property went back on the market for $3.2 million. This unexpected turn of events afforded Potomac Conservancy a rare chance to protect a forested, riverside property in the headwaters of the Potomac River.

Project to Date

The total cost for the White Horse project is $3.2 million. In 2014, Potomac Conservancy negotiated an option to purchase the property for its appraised value of $2,825,000. Over 250 individuals contributed nearly $50,000 to help secure down payment funds. Potomac Conservancy then secured a $2.2 million loan from The Conservation Fund and purchased the property in May 2015. Since then, we have secured $2,512,000 (80 percent of project costs).

Next Steps

We are now raising the remaining 20 percent of project funds ($653K). Once the funds are raised, we will transfer White Horse Mountain to WV DNR. The state will manage White Horse once again as a public Wildlife Management Area, filling a gap in protected land that will help connect nearly 60,000 acres of conservation lands in West Virginia and Maryland. This will allow the forest, water, and wildlife habitat resources to be managed sustainably in perpetuity, will connect a vital migratory corridor, and will reopen access to the public for hiking, hunting, and other forms of passive recreation. As a result, more than 10 miles of headwater streams and 670 source water acres for two municipal springs will be forever protected.