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Second Phase of Upper Greenbrier North Project Moves Forward

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Monongahela National Forest, Greenbrier District Ranger, Jack Tribble, signed the second of 3 decision notices on the Upper Greenbrier North project. This portion of the project includes spruce restoration activities. The November 29 notice also begins a 30-day appeal period.

Upper Greenbrier North Decision Notice Cover Letter
Upper Greenbrier North Decision Notice

Mon Forest grows by 415 acres

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- More than 400 acres of red spruce and northern hardwood forest bordering the Roaring Plains West Wilderness Area have been added to the Monongahela National Forest through agreements announced Friday.

The property, located on a slope of Mount Porte Crayon at elevations reaching 4,600 feet, was once owned by Mead-Westvaco, and was later acquired by The Nature Conservancy from its most recent owner, Thunderstruck Conservation LLC.


The Witness Trees

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Reaching into the past, Melissa Thomas-Van Gundy paints a vivid picture of a highlands forest dense with white oak, flaming sugar maple and American beeches, with a scattering of yellow poplar, wild cherry and spruce pine and, here and there, a singular crab apple, elm or soaring sycamore tree.

That’s how the Monongahela National Forestin central West Virginia may have appeared before it was slowly distributed among settlers from 1752 to 1899, Dr. Thomas-Van Gundy suggests in researchrecently published by the Forest Service.


Decision Notice Released for the Upper Greenbrier North Project

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August 15, 2012, The Forest Service has finalized its plans for the Upper Greenbrier North Project project (UGN) and has released a Decision Notice (DN) and Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI). The UGN is located in the upper part of the Greenbrier River watershed, in Pocahontas and Randolph Counties, West Virginia. It is a result of over six years of internal planning and a collaborative process in coordination with the Central Appalachian Spruce Restoration Initiative. The UGN project is designed to implement various actions, ranging from timber harvest to watershed restoration, and to help accomplish desired conditions, goals, and objectives in the Monongahela National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan. Activities will take place on approximately 8,340 acres, all of which are located on NFS lands. A large project area was chosen to allow better consideration and analysis of cumulative impacts and landscape ecology factors such as spruce-hardwood ecosystem connectivity, age class distribution, and watershed improvement needs and opportunities. This project is also designed to help achieve the following site-specific project objectives: Restore and/or protect the red spruce–northern hardwood ecosystem Improve the health and vigor of forested stands, with an emphasis toward desirable tree species, especially mast-producing trees in MP 6.1, or red spruce in MP 4.1 Help restore a fire-adapted oak-hickory ecosystem Regenerate selected areas to not only provide a timber resource to the economy, but to create early successional habitat and perpetuate a diversity of mast-producing species Treat infestations of nonnative invasive species Restore aquatic and riparian habitat Reduce current recreation site impacts and improve recreation opportunities View the document:Upper Greenbrier North Decision Notice

The Wildflowers of Blister Swamp: A Conservation Success Story

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On an early morning in July 2010, I stood on the old farmhouse porch at Blister Swamp, watching the sky begin to lighten in the east behind a distant red spruce forest. Crows were the first to announce the new day, while a group of does and yearlings walked across the misty swamp, skirting the wire fence that encloses some 50 acres of globally rare plants.

By 7:15, the deer had reached the spruce forest edge and were feeding quietly, the older does looking up frequently, ever on the lookout for trouble. Then, as if to add their endorsement to the beauty and serenity of the landscape, four bald eagles appeared silently above. I also counted three different species of hawks flying by in less than an hour's time.

When the mist finally burned off the swamp, I walked from the farmhouse to the swamp's entrance gate and beheld a very satisfying sight. Countless thousands of Jacob's ladder blossoms, blue and bell-like, covered acre after acre, bending ever so slightly in the breeze. Goldthread, a rare plant in West Virginia, was as abundant as anywhere I had seen it, even in its typical habitat in the far north. In addition, purple avens were seemingly everywhere, while alder-leaf buckthorn was knee-deep and forming vast, continuous mats of shrubby vegetation. Finally, and importantly, hundreds of native balsam fir seedlings, planted in the early 2000s, had grown to between three and six feet tall.

Not much more than a decade ago, Jacob's ladder, goldthread, and many other rare plants were barely surviving at the Pocahontas County wetlands known as Blister Swamp. In an article in the August 2003 issue of Wonderful West Virginia, I described the history of the property, which for nearly a century had been used for cattle grazing. As I noted in that article, Franklin, West Virginia, native and Civil War veteran John McClure purchased the property in 1867, cleared its native balsam fir woodland in 1905, and by 1915, the year of his death, was known as the "Cattle King of West Virginia."

Read the rest of the story at

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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