Nesting Boxes for Owls

December 2021.

Installation of a Barred Owl nesting box in the woods above the cement mill and River Road by Dr. Mike Nickerson.

Thanks to Bob Nickerson for the box construction and donation.


December 2021.

Less than a week after putting up the owl boxes, a Barred Owl sits on the sign for Blue Mountain Meadow Farm, Drs. Mike and Rosemary Nickerson, owners. Located in the core area of the battlefield on Stonehouse Lane off Trough Road.

Wildlife Habitat Certification

January 2021.

Wildlife Habitat Certification was obtained from the Audubon Society for the riverside park and cement mill property along the Potomac River.

Dr. Mike Nickerson, SBPA member, worked with Wil Hershberger, Naturalist, and Katelyn Walters, Land Manager of the Potomac Valley Audubon Society to document the site’s habitat characteristics, birds and native plants.

Birds in the Battlefield Program

Press Release

February 20, 2020

A new project, Birds in the Battlefield, is underway in 2020 to improve bird habitat in preserved areas of the Battle of Shepherdstown, located along River and Trough Roads on the Potomac River below Shepherdstown. The Battle of Shepherdstown occurred on September 19 – 20, 1862 immediately following the Battle of Antietam with Union forces crossing the Potomac River in pursuit of a retreating Confederate army hindered by massive numbers of wounded. The battle spanned the Potomac River with intense artillery and rifle fire at Packhorse Ford, the Cement Mill, the C&O Canal and heights in Maryland, extending up Trough Road onto Engle-Mohler Road.

Since 2010, the Jefferson County Historic Landmarks Commission (JCHLC) and assisted by the Shepherdstown Battlefield Preservation Association (SBPA) have succeeded in preserving 56 acres astride ½ miles of the Potomac River. The site includes the ruins of the historic Cement Mill and rugged cliffs above the river where brutal fighting occurred during the battle, as well as the ‘Trough’ (stream) juncture with the Potomac, riverside brush and downed trees, and upland forested areas. These areas represent valuable habitat for birds as well as native plants (birds and botany) that can be developed in conjunction with highlighting the historic significance of the site.

The project was initiated by Dr. Mike Nickerson, member of both the SBPA and the Potomac Valley Audubon Society (PVAS) and will be managed by the JCHLC, SBPA and PVAS. Members of the SBPA sponsored an initial walk-through of the battlefield by Dr. Nickerson, KC Walters PVAS Land and Conservation Manager, and Wil Hershberger, local bird expert. The evaluators were highly impressed with the habitat potential of the site including large dead trees suitable for several woodpecker species, the cement mill ruins for wrens, cavities in large riverside trees for wood ducks, and cliff ledges and seams for owls and bats. Mr. Hershberger was enthusiastic about the potential of rare plants in the cliffs, largely untouched for 150 years- adding a valuable botany component to the project’s efforts.

An initial property evaluation conducted in early 2020 described prioritized options for wildlife habitat enhancement and recommended the Battlefield property be enrolled in the Audubon Society’s Wildlife Habitat Program. Properties participating in this program provide sufficient food, water, and shelter to sustain wildlife. Once enrolled, the JCHLC and SBPA will be given sign to display. The evaluation will be reviewed by the JCHLC and interested volunteers. Volunteers willing to contribute to these efforts are encouraged to contact the JCHLC, SBPA or the PVAS. Priority action items such as birdhouse construction will be planned and distributed to volunteers before spring so be ready! Landowners in the area who wish to learn more about PVAS’s Habitat Stewardship Programs, including the Wildlife Habitat Program, can contact the PVAS to schedule a property evaluation.

153rd Anniversary of the Battle of Monocacy

The Battle of Monocacy, known as “The Battle That Saved Washington,” took place on July 9, 1864 as part of the third and final Confederate campaign in Maryland. On July 8-9, 2017, Monocacy National Battlefield will commemorate the 153rd Anniversary of the Battle of Monocacy with a FREE special event. Programs will include infantry and artillery firing demonstrations, both civilian and military living history encampments, battlefield orientation talks, and hand’s-on activities for children’s of all ages. All programs and activities will take place at the Monocacy National Battlefield Visitor Center: 5201 Urbana Pike, Frederick, MD 21704 (GPS address only).

Canoe/Kayak Tours are available both days through Frederick County Parks & Recreation. For more information or to register, please visit:

The full schedule is as follows:

Saturday and Sunday:
Battlefield Orientation Talks:

9:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., & 2:30 p.m.
Infantry Firing Demonstrations:
10:00 a.m., 12:30 p.m., & 3:00 p.m.
Artillery Firing Demonstrations:
10:30 a.m., 1:00 p.m., & 3:30 p.m.

For more information, please visit the park’s website at, see us on Facebook, or call the visitor center at 301-662-3515. The visitor center is located at 5201 Urbana Pike, Frederick, MD 21704. Operating hours are daily from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 pm.

About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 412 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at

Listserv Courtesy of Jefferson County Historical Society and the George Tyler Moore Center | PO Box 485, Charles Town, WV 25414


On November 17, 2016, The Civil War Trust purchased 11 acres of land on the site of the 1862 Battle of Shepherdstown. The site is contiguous to previously purchased battlefield land. The 11 acres cost $360,000 with half of the funds coming from the American Battlefield Protection Program of the National Park Service. As has been done previously, the Civil War Trust intends to deed the property to the Jefferson County Historic Preservation Commission (JCHLC).

Through the efforts of the JCHLC and the Shepherdstown Battlefield Preservation Association Inc. (SBPA), approximately 118 acres of the site of the Battle of Shepherdstown have been saved. Conservation easements have been placed on 84 acres and 34 acres have been purchased. Approximately $1.75 million has been rasied to save the battlefield land.

Interior Dept. Releases Final Study of Shepherdstown Battlefield

July 27, 2015: In early July, The Department of Interior released the final study documents of the National Park Service’s (NPS) Special Resource Study (SRS) of the Shepherdstown Battlefield. The Battle of Shepherdstown occurred on September 19 and 20, 1862 involving approximately 8,000 to 10,000 troops and resulted in 677 casualties.

The SRS concluded that the 510 acre site of the 1862 Battle of Shepherdstown would be preferably included within the Antietam National Battlefield Park. The SRS studied various options and possible boundary adjustments including an assessment of including the Shepherdstown site within the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. “As such, each of these boundary adjustment options is included in the study alternatives, with Antietam National Battlefield being the preferable option due to its historical and geographical connections to the Battle of Shepherdstown.”

The 1862 Maryland Campaign of the Army of Northern Virginia included battles of South ountain, Harpers Ferry, Antietam and ending in a battle near Shepherdstown in what is now West Virginia. The SRS concluded that: “The inclusion of the Shepherdstown battlefield into Antietam National Battlefield would provide visitors the opportunity to have an expanded understanding of the events directly following the Battle of Antietam and the culmination of the Maryland Campaign. The SRS further concludes it “would propose to adjust the existing boundary of Antietam National Battlefield to include areas of the Shepherdstown battlefield that contribute to an understanding of the significance of the Battle of Antietam and the Maryland Campaign.”

In early 2012, the NPS held two scoping meetings seeking public comments regarding the proposed SRS. “In total, approximately 136 people attended the scoping meetings. … Public response received by the National Park Service was predominately supportive of the study and enthusiastic concerning the interpretation and protection of the Shepherdstown battlefield.” The preliminary SRS was released in August 2014 and a public review period was conducted for two months. During this period, 334 individuals corresponded with the NPS. Two public meetings were held in September attended by approximately 93 individuals. “Commenters expressed overwhelming support for” … the management option that the…“Antietam National Boundary Adjustment as the most effective and efficient way to preserve the Shepherdstown battlefield.”

“If Congress were to authorize a legislative boundary that would encompass the Shepherdstown battlefield as part of … Antietam National Battlefield, there would be no change to existing landownership…” “Any change to land ownership or use would be in the future as the National Park Service is able to acquire battlefield land from willing sellers and donors.”

The effort to involve the Federal government in helping to save and preserve the site of the Battle of Shepherdstown has been the result of the work of the Shepherdstown Battlefield Preservation Association Inc (SBPA) and its individual members. SBPA is a non-profit corporation, organized in 2004 dedicated to saving and preserving the core of the site of the Battle of Shepherdstown. Approximately 105 acres have been saved through conservation easements and land purchases. Also, approximately $1.1 million has been raised to save battlefield land through grants and membership contributions during the last ten years. If you would like to help save more of the battlefield and learn more about SBPA, please go to:

Court Rules County PC Violated WV Law

On February 26, 2015, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals (WVSCA) ruled that the Jefferson County Planning Commission (PC), in two instances, violated the West Virginia Open Governmental proceedings Act (OGPA) when the PC granted extensions to the developer of Far Away Farm (FAF). The WVSCA rulings reverse prior rulings by the Circuit Court. The WVSCA rulings were the result of a petition filed by Gary Capriotti, Edward Dunleavy, Edward Moore and the Shepherdstown Battlefield Preservation Association Inc.
In July 2011, the PC approved a secret agreement with the developer of FAF granting extensions of the Conditional Use Permit (CUP) and the Community Impact Statement (CIS) to build 152 houses on the farm. The agenda for that meeting did not identify the PC/FAF agreement as a subject of consideration. The agenda item under which the agreement was discussed was titled: “Reports from Legal Counsel and legal advice.” The WVSCA ruled that: “Because the agenda notice did not adequately inform the public of the specific items to be considered at the Planning Commission’s July 26, 2011, meeting, we find that the Planning Commission violated W. Va. Code 6-9A-3 and reverse the circuit court’s contrary ruling.”
Also, the WVSCA cited W. Va. Code 6-9A-4(b)(11) that “if the public agency has approved or considered a settlement in closed session, and the terms of the settlement allow disclosure, the terms of that settlement shall be reported by the public agency and entered into its minutes within a reasonable time after the settlement is concluded.” While the Court stated that the PC “referenced the settlement at its meeting of October 11, 2011, and indicated that it would attach the final settlement to the minutes of that meeting, it has yet do so.” “Accordingly, we find that the Planning Commission has violated the reporting requirements set forth in W.Va. Code 6-9A-4(b)(11).”
The WVSCA remanded the case back to the Circuit Court to provide a remedy for the violations.