January 31, 2007
The Harpers Ferry Conservancy and the National Park Trust recently donated land to the town of Harpers Ferry for a stream valley nature park. Located adjacent to the Harpers Ferry town hall, the donation nearly doubles the town's park land holdings.
The town already owned five lots anchored by a formal garden parcel developed and maintained by the Harpers Ferry Woman's Club. The Conservancy's donation adds an additional five lots. Three of the lots were purchased by the Conservancy and two were a generous donation by the family of Bob and Georgia Dubose.
According to Conservancy Executive Director Paul Rosa, "these lands comprise nearly a complete block of Ridge Street." It is contemplated that the balance of the town park lands will remain in a natural state with a trail meandering along the stream valley. The deeds for the donated property restrict their use to "public park, trails, non-game recreation and streamside environmental buffer purposes."
The steeply-sloped stream valley leads from the Harpers Ferry town hall to the Potomac River and adjacent National Park Service lands. Fewer than half a dozen lots in the stream valley remain in private hands. Rosa said "we hope the remaining lots will be donated or purchased in the not-too-distant future to complete the stream valley as an environmentally protected unit." If those lots are acquired the completed stream valley park will link neighborhoods surrounding the stream valley with a contemplated bikeway along the Potomac River.
According to National Park Trust President Paul Pritchard "noted landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted correctly perceived that interconnected park lands have infinitely greater value to a community than isolated parcels. The National Park Trust is glad to be involved in a project that links local parks, National Park lands and the Potomac River together in an integrated landscape that benefits the public at large."
Harpers Ferry Mayor James Addy said "these lands not only have great value as a nature park but they serve an important environmental purpose. Because of the rugged topography of Harpers Ferry this stream valley receives large amounts of stormwater runoff during major rains. Maintaining these lands in a natural forested state provides a buffer for the Potomac River."
In addition to this project, the Harpers Ferry Conservancy and the National Park Trust have played leadership roles in obtaining legislation and appropriations to expand the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park to encompass lands along Millville and Bakerton Roads comprising the School House Ridge Civil War battlefield.
Grace Lee, Executive Director
National Park Trust
Paul Rosa, Executive Director
Harpers Ferry Conservancy
Founded in 1983, National Park Trust is the only land conservancy dedicated to preserving our national system of parks, wildlife and historic monuments.