Restoring the forest

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Conservation easement protects Randolph County 'land bridge'

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A 555-acre stretch of private land in high country of Randolph County connecting the Laurel Fork Wilderness to the Seneca Creek Backcountry has been protected through a permanent conservation easement.

The easement, worked out between Gandy Ranch owner Steve Callan, The Nature Conservancy and several other conservation partners, will provide a habitat connection between some of the wildest lands in the Monongahela National Forest.


Red Spruce Reviving in New England, but Why?

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In the 1970s, red spruce was the forest equivalent of a canary in the coal mine, signaling that acid rain was damaging forests and that some species, especially red spruce, were particularly sensitive to this human induced damage. In the course of studying the lingering effects of acid rain and whether trees stored less carbon as a result of winter injury, U.S. Forest Service and University of Vermont scientists came up with a surprising result -- three decades later, the canary is feeling much better. Decline in red spruce has been attributed to damage that trees sustain in winter, when foliage predisposed to injury by exposure to acid rain experiences freezing injury and dies. Paul Schaberg, a research plant physiologist with the U.S. Forest Service's Northern Research Station in Burlington, Vt., and partners studied red spruce trees in Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. They found that the influence of a single damaging winter injury event in 2003 continued to slow tree growth in New England for 3 years, longer than had been expected, and had a significant impact on carbon storage.

They also found something they did not expect.

"The shocking thing is that these trees are doing remarkably well now," said Schaberg, a co-author on the study. Researchers found that diameter growth is now the highest ever recorded for red spruce, indicating that it is now growing at levels almost two times the average for the last 100 years, a growth rate never before achieved by the trees examined. "It raises the question 'why?'" Schaberg said.

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Red Spruce Reforestation in Cheat Mountain

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Watch this 4 min video to learn more about about how and why CASRI partners are working to restore areas like Lambert Run.


Strip Mine Preparation for Planting Spruce

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Spruce restoration along Lambert Run is getting busy again. The USFS is incorporating woody debris and organic material into the soil to prepare for tree planting. When is the last time you visited Cheat Mountain?

Restoring West Virginia’s “Magnificent” Spruce Forests

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Government agencies, nonprofits, businesses and individuals are all working to bring back West Virginia's "magnificent" spruce forests. Evan Burks coordinates the Central Appalachian Spruce Restoration Initiative for the Monongahela National Forest. Burks said the spruce forests are high-elevation remnants of the last ice age, almost lost in the logging that stripped much of the state in the early 20th century.

Restoring them is important, in part, because they create a cool-climate refuge for hundreds of rare species, Burks explained.


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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