Standing on the white rocky cliffs along the Appalachian Trail, one is rewarded for the uphill hike with a breathtaking panoramic view of farms and forest. Once threatened by development, 850 acres of forested ridgeline are now permanently protected. Their preservation safeguards an unbroken forest habitat, amazing geological formations, and a place to take in stunning views.
The conservation of White Rocks was an epic endeavor, spanning two decades and requiring dedication, collaboration, and significant funding.
In the early 1990s, the National Park Service acquired 300 acres in order to protect the Appalachian National Scenic Trail corridor. However five parcels, totaling 850 acres, remained unprotected.
In 2006, a 274-house development was proposed on these five parcels, endangering the views along the Appalachian Trail and the uninterrupted forest habitat.
Residents and trail lovers opposed the development, and various nonprofit organizations and government agencies banded together to find a conservation solution. Extensive negotiations with the willing landowner ensued. Eventually a deal was reached. But even with strong public support, the $3.2 million price tag was too expensive.
Fortunately, the Keystone Fund made it possible for the partners to leverage the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, as well as private donations, to buy the land.
The five parcels were transferred to the National Park Service in 2011. Protected from development, they preserve the Appalachian Trail experience, safeguard the drinking water of surrounding communities, and ensure migratory pathways for wildlife. They also connect with 700 acres of Pennsylvania State Game Lands. Located just 20 miles from Harrisburg, the protected lands provide bountiful recreational opportunities for hikers, birders, rock climbers, and other outdoor enthusiasts.