The Nature Conservancy and Snowshoe Mountain Resort announced today a cooperative agreement to protect and restore high quality red spruce forest near the popular West Virginia ski area.
As part of the agreement, Snowshoe will set aside 233 acres of high quality habitat in the heart of WV’s highlands. The deal between Snowshoe and The Nature Conservancy represents the first conservation easement to be implemented in the State of West Virginia to meet the requirements of a Habitat Conservation Plan. The deal lays the groundwork for conservation organizations in West Virginia to play a strong role in the implementation of Habitat Conservation Plans that look to set aside areas of permanent protection.
The forest in this Central Appalachian mountain region is home to a unique combination of northern and southern tree species and protects the headwaters of the Shavers Fork and Cheat River. The forest is globally significant as home to the rare West Virginian northern flying squirrel and the federally endangered Cheat Mountain salamander.
“This agreement will benefit the red spruce forest and all the animals that live there, as well as the commercial interests of one of West Virginia’s most popular outdoor recreation areas” said Rodney Bartgis, West Virginia State Director for the Nature Conservancy. “It demonstrates how thoughtfully crafted and implemented Habitat Conservation Plans can be used to everyone’s benefit.”
As part of the Habitat Conservation Plan, Snowshoe Mountain Resort agreed to permanently set aside a conservation area on their property. The land will be protected through a conservation easement – a permanent agreement to limit development on the property.
“The plan enables Snowshoe to maintain ownership of the land and continue passive recreation such as cross-country skiing, horseback riding and hiking, while maintaining the habitat for the West Virginia flying squirrel over the long term. The Conservancy, Snowshoe, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are working together to protect this high-quality forest habitat adjacent to nearly 60,000 acres of public lands in the Monongahela National Forest.”
"Snowshoe is very proud to be a part of one of West Virginia's first Habitat Conservation plans and this unique partnership between private and public enterprises," added Ed Galford, Snowshoe's Vice President of Mountain Operations. "By designating this portion of the resort for permanent conservation, we ensure our next generation of guests will continue to enjoy this amazing natural setting, as a site of both conservation and recreation like skiing and hiking."
The Conservancy was selected as a conservation partner for its experience in protecting and restoring red spruce forests and for protecting globally rare species, Bartgis explained. The organization has protected nearly 110,000 acres in West Virginia of which 60,000 acres have been in red spruce forests. The Conservancy also works with the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, West Virginia Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and other government agencies to protect the state’s most biologically diverse habitats.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.
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