On October 29th, Friends of Blackwater and the Center for Biological Diversity sent comments to Mon Forest Cheat/Potomac district ranger Jon Morgan about the proposed Grassy Ridge project.
FOB and the Center are primarily concerned with the proposed project’s impacts to West Virginia Northern Flying Squirrel (WVNFS)and their habitat. First, the project’s proposal to clear cut hardwoods in multiple stands does nothing to advance the purpose of need of the project and will likely fragment important WVNFS habitat. Research shows that tall, old growth hardwood trees are crucial to WVNFS’s success.Second, the proposed project needs to be modified to exclude clear cutting in WVNFS buffers. Cutting in the 50 foot buffer around WVNFS habitat will expose this protected habitat to “edge effects”- leading to a potential increase in noise, light, pollution, wind, and human recreation, causing species to retreat further inland, or in this case, further into the suitable WVNFS habitat. Third, the draft EA does not meaningfully evaluate impacts to WVNFS.
FOB and the Center urged the Forest Service to revisit the proposed project with more protective measures for the WVNFS. You can read the full letter to the USFS here.