Recently, FOB had the opportunity to comment on the scoping plans for two different Forest Service land management and timbering projects, Upper Elk and Grassy Ridge. The Forest Service releases a “scoping” document prior to any environmental assessments or any other plans relating to a management project. This helps determine the size/scale of the project and figure out which stakeholders are invested in the resources, habitats, wildlife, etc. in that area. This scoping period is the opportunity to make the biggest impact in the planning of these projects. FOB was invited to scoping meetings prior to the release of the official scoping for both of these projects .
The Grassy Ridge project is located in Pendleton and Randolph Counties and was presented as a wildlife management and red spruce restoration project. Timber removal would be completed on up to 420 acres, largely opening up the canopy for red spruce to establish themselves. This project has been presented as a WV northern flying squirrel restoration plan, but ignores the need for not just red spruce, but old growth red spruce mixed with old growth hardwood trees. These rare squirrels need tall trees trees to glide off of, and mature forests that can grow the underground truffles that are an essential part of their diet. FOB submitted official comments at the beginning of March and will be keeping tabs on this project as planning progresses.
The Upper Elk project is in the Marlinton/Sulfur District, a particularly karst area of the state, meaning that an abundance of limestone exists underground which is easily erodible, creating caves, cracks, and underground crevices. Many species of bats are found here, including three endangered WV species. We are concerned that this project may harm their habitat or introduce the deadly white nose syndrome to parts of this area that were previously unaffected. We are also concerned about the Elk River crayfish, a threatened species that has been found int his area. (sign on to our petition that helps protect Elk River crayfish habitat here!) As always, FOB also voiced our concern about the WV northern flying squirrel management in the Mon Forest, and any threats to the water, particularly in trout streams.
We will continue to monitor these projects and advocate for the wildlife and habitats who can’t speak for themselves. Thank you for your support which enables us to continue this protection!