Restoring the forest

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Forest Service Tries To Hold Hemlock Pest at Bay

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Tall, feathery leaved hemlock trees have long been an iconic part of the mountainous landscape of the Monongahela National Forest. Often associated with cool, moist drainages, hemlocks provide year round shade for campers and trout alike. Unfortunately there is a considerable threat to the health of these lovely trees in the form of very small, non-native insects called hemlock woolly adelgids. Rarely do people notice the infestations, except perhaps the white, cottony spots on the underside of the leaves, until the trees are so damaged they begin to die off.

First detected in West Virginia in 1992, the adelgid has quickly spread throughout the range of the hemlock in the Monongahela. Scientists estimate the insect has the potential to infest the entire range of eastern hemlock within 30 years. Tree mortality can begin within 5-6 years after a stand becomes heavily infested, with more than 90% mortality within 10-12 years.


W.Va. seen as stronghold against climate change

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CHARLESTON, W.Va.-- The highland forest along the spine of the Appalachian Mountains in eastern West Virginia has been identified as a key stronghold for allowing plants and wildlife to withstand the growing impacts of global warming in the U.S. northeast and southeastern Canada. A new study by The Nature Conservancy has identified a series of landscapes in eastern North America that, if left intact, are predicted to be resilient enough to endure climate change. The study, funded by Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Northeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and The Nature Conservancy, analyzed 156 million acres of land stretching from Virginia to southeastern Canada. Landscapes with the most diverse topographies, elevation ranges, and geologies were judged to offer the greatest potential for accommodating plant and animal species needing to move to more habitable regions as climate change alters their traditional homes. The Appalachian mountain range in general and the eastern highland forests of West Virginia in particular were determined to be among the most resilient landscapes identified in the study. Other key landscapes included the limestone flats of northern Maine and adjacent portions of Canada, the coastal plains and oak-pine forests of New Jersey and Virginia, and the floodplains of northeastern New York. The study also identified important corridors that link resilient landscapes. In West Virginia, such corridors included the east side of the Cacapon River watershed in the Eastern Panhandle and the Allegheny Front along the west rim of the South Branch Valley in Grant and Pendleton counties, according to Rodney Bartgis, state director of The Nature Conservancy's West Virginia office. Bartgis said the Dolly Sods and Cranberry Wilderness Areas, the Seneca Creek Backcountry and portions of Cheat Mountain, all within the Monongahela National Forest, were identified as key strongholds for providing habitat as the climate warms and dries, as were the New River Gorge and portions of the Greenbrier Valley. "If we can keep these strongholds intact and connected, it increases the odds for plants and animals to persist through climate change," Bartgis said. "If you have enough land with enough variety in elevation, geology and landforms, and that land hasn't been broken up by things like highways, when it starts to warm up, plants and animals can move upslope or to a different face of the slope they're on." Read the rest of the story at

Photo essay of Blister Swamp Restoration Project

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An excellent photo album of a restoration project on the Monongahela National Forest at Blister Swamp in the headwaters of the East Fork Greenbrier River by the USF&WS's Liz Stout. Enjoy!!

Cultivating Conservation Connections at Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge

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Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge (CVNWR) was recently selected as an America's Great Outdoors (AGO) site. As an AGO site and an active member in the multi-agency Central Appalachian Spruce Restoration Initiative, the Refuge is working with local, state and federal agencies, and partners to conserve and manage public lands in this region in order to more thoughtfully improve their natural and recreational value.

West Virginia, and in particular the Central Appalachians, is home to one of the most biologically diverse temperate broadleaf forests on Earth and consists of some of the largest intact forest blocks in the eastern United States. The red spruce forests on the Refuge and in West Virginia were decimated between the 1880's and 1920. More than 90% of the original spruce forests in the state have been logged and are in slow stages of recovery. The Refuge has been working through partnerships to restore the extent and ultimately ecological function of red spruce forests in the state for over 6 years.


Red Spruce Ecosystem Restoration in Canaan Valley

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For over 10 years we have been working on a corridor along the Blackwater River in Canaan Valley. Much of it is on the National Wildlife Refuge but important parts are on private properties that adjoin the Refuge. This year, we partnered with the Timberline Association, the homeowners group that holds common lands they call their "Conservancy." Some of these lands are along the Blackwater River in the area of our planned corridor. Connecting the many patches of remnant spruce is the goal of this corridor and, on a landscape scale, we partner with a diverse array of public, private and corporate land owners. The Blackwater River corridor through the southern Valley is nearly complete. A final link was completed with this volunteer planting event we held April 21 & 22 celebrating Earth Day!


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Who are we?

This website has been established and is being managed by the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy to support the work of the Central Appalachian Spruce Restoration Initiative (CASRI).

CASRI is a partnership of diverse interests with a common goal of restoring historic red spruce-northern hardwood ecosystems across the high elevation landscapes of Central Appalachia. It is comprised of private, state, federal, and non-governmental organizations who share a recognition of the importance of this ecosystem.

Contact Us

For more information, and volunteer opportunities, please contact :

Julie Fosbender

Partnership coordinator

US Forest Service

Monongahela National Forest

P: 304-636-1800

f: 304-637-0582