We are very concerned about a Forest Service plan in the works called the Upper Cheat River project. It covers 86,138-acres, nearly 10% of the entire Monongahela National Forest, and is located north of Parsons in Tucker, Barbour, and Preston Counties in the Upper Cheat River watershed.
Within this project area are older growth forests, the key to carbon storage and a hedge against climate change, and unique wildlife like the endangered rusty patched bumblebee, native brook trout, the WV Northern flying squirrel, and the threatened Cheat Mountain salamander.
The public, especially land owners in the project area, is encouraged to attend to voice their concerns and questions. The Forest Service must comply with the National Environmental Policy Act, which requires them to plan for alternative actions within the project outline.
A few things that FOB is concerned about include:
- Realistic alternatives to minimize trees cut and roads built.
- Surveys for endangered and rare species habitat and existing populations in the project area.
- Protection of the historic resources in the project area, including but not limited to cemeteries, old school houses and church foundations, and Camp Horseshoe.
- Habitat protection for the WV northern flying squirrel.
- No activities on steep slopes to help prevent sediment loading in streams and flooding downhill.
- No new roads in the project area.
- This Upper Cheat area already contains early successional habitat on private and Forest Service land. What is needed is the protection of older growth forests on the landscape, not more clear cutting.
- Overlap of the project area with perspective Corridor H routes.
Virtual sessions were put on by the Mon NF on December 2nd and December. Each meeting included the same presentations (linked here).
The Forest Service staff provided information on the project, and the second half was an open Q&A format where folks asked questions and expressed concern about the project. Unfortunately, the project page was inactive during the second meeting, so many people were unable to attend. project webpage.
General project FAQs are found here.
Aquatic FAQs are found here.
Fire FAQs are found here.
Timbering FAQs are found here.
Wildlife FAQs are found here.
During the virtual open house, Forest staff presented background information and potential management activities. Information received from the public during these meetings will be used to help develop the project proposal so now is the time to speak up against this unprecedented timbering project!! The public sessions are over, but the Forest Service is still collecting public input and will answer questions about the project.
Formal scoping is expected to be released in Summer 2021, when the public will be invited to comment on the plans and ask further questions.
To submit informal comments or ask further questions, please contact Mon Forest North Zone NEPA planner Amy Albright at [email protected]