On Oct. 30, Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge Manager Ron Hollis canceled plans to commercially log nearly 20 percent of the wildlife refuge, which is within West Virginia’s Monongahela National Forest. The original plan, released in August, would have allowed in-house and contract commercial logging for 30 to 40 acres annually, with commercial areas recut in 40-year cycles.
West Virginia conservation group Friends of Blackwater and other organizations successfully mobilized opposition to the timbering plan. The public submitted hundreds of comments citing scientific and ecological concerns, which required the agency to extend the comment period.
Hollis announced that the refuge would pursue limited non-commercial logging as an alternative to commercial timber harvest.
In a press statement, Friends of Blackwater Director Judy Rodd said, “We are very happy that endangered species habitat will be protected using non-commercial forest management to promote a diversity of habitat types on the refuge.”
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the refuge is currently home to 580 species of plants and 288 animal species within its high elevation grasslands, wetlands and forests.
Also in October, the Center for Biological Diversity, a nonprofit conservation advocacy group, submitted comments opposing two other logging projects the U.S. Forest Service proposed for the Monongahela National Forest. These plans target nearly 400 acres in the Spruce Mountain Grouse Management Area and more than 2,400 acres in the Big Rock area. — By Caelann Wood