Secluded amid a 3,600-acre string of protected peaks on North Fork Mountain lies The Nature Conservancy’s Pike Knob – a 1,600-acre preserve boasting some of the finest views in the state. From its open fields, visitors can gaze out over the expanse of West Virginia’s large, intact mountain landscapes, where family farms dot the valleys, golden eagles cruise the skies and coyotes howl in the distance.
To the west of the preserve, Spruce Knob, West Virginia’s highest point, intercepts weather systems, causing storms to drop much of their rain and snowfall before they hit North Fork. As a result, the mountain is one of the driest in the East. These dry conditions help to make Pike Knob Preserve, and the landscape it’s nestled within, one of the most ecologically significant areas in the Central Appalachians.
Main threats to Pike Knob Preserve and North Fork Mountain are habitat fragmentation, invasive species, second home development, and trampling of rare habitats by off-road vehicles and visitors. In order to safeguard the preserve, the Conservancy is:
- Controlling non-native invasive weeds like cheatgrass, viper’s bugloss and mullein that threaten native species
- Studying the historic and ecological roles of fire
- Providing conservation and ecological management expertise to private land owners and public land managers
- Protecting land through acquisitions and conservation easements