Forestry in the Mountain State
Germany Valleye, a privately owned parcel located within the Monongahela National Forest in Pendleton County, WV
Credit: West Virginia Department of Commerce
West Virginia is the third most heavily forested state in the nation, with nearly 12 million acres (78%) of the state’s land area covered by forests. The state has considerable public lands and many small and large private landowners, including Timber Investment Management Organizations, Real Estate Investment Trusts, coal companies, forest products companies, and over 260,00 family forest owners who collectively hold more than 10 million acreas of forestland. Some areas in the state have experienced a gradual reduction in parcel sizes - sometimes in conjunction with forest fragmentation and related development and urbanization issues. Meanwhile, other parts of the state have actually seen some combining of ownerships and a trend towards increased consolidation into larger private holdings.
West Virginia’s forests are highly varied and diverse, as are its fauna and flora. The state has red spruce, balsam fir, northern hardwoods, glades, and bogs at higher elevations; oak hickory forests throughout the state; white pine dominated forests in the Greenbrier River Valley and various other southern counties; and bottomland ecosystems along major rivers. West Virginia’s forests provide numerous benefits, including sustainability of flora and fauna and associated habitats; production of clean air and water and other environmental benefits, woodland recreation and aesthetics, and production of over 5,000 wood products.
The West Virginia Division of Forestry’s (WVDOF) mission is to protect, nurture, and promote the wise utilization and sustainability of the state’s forest resources. WVDOF’s programs focus on forest fire prevention and suppression; enforcement of some of the nation’s toughest water quality laws; and the provision of forest management assistance to over 260,000 private forest landowners.