Time stands still high above Canaan Valley, in Dolly Sods, where a flat, windswept expanse of subalpine heath barrens opens up to the sky. Stunted red spruce, ancient bogs and forlorn boulders define this haunting landscape, where creatures typically found in more northern environs roam oblivious to their geologic isolation.
Once mostly covered by dense, towering red spruce and hemlock forest, Bear Rocks and the surrounding area saw major deforestation, followed by livestock grazing, by the turn of the last century, leaving the region ecologically distressed. Today, however, the much-visited landscape is recovering well, with Conservancy efforts in the region focusing on mending and connecting large protected landscapes in order to breathe new life into this timeless region.
What We’re Doing
- Planting red spruce trees on the preserve, to connect with a stand on adjacent U.S. Forest Service property.
- Protecting private properties surrounding Forest Service land through the use of conservation easements.
- Acquiring more than 6,000 acres (known as Dolly Sods North) in the early 1990s for the Forest Service.
- Acquiring 15,000 acres of coal rights in the 1970s and transferring them to the Forest Service, allowing for the creation of the 10,000-acre Dolly Sods Wilderness Area.