The Upper Shavers Fork Preserve is located along the banks of the Shavers Fork of the Cheat River at the center of the 40-mile long high elevation watershed that is the heart of West Virginia’s red spruce forests. These red spruce forests are not only spectacularly beautiful, with their green canopy and lush understories of rhododendron, mountain laurels, ferns, and mosses, but support one of the most biologically significant areas in West Virginia and the Central Appalachian Ecoregion. The high elevation of the landscape creates an environment that catches a good deal of moisture and sustains cool temperatures, allowing species generally associated with northern boreal forests to co-exist with more southern species. Well known boreal species such as the northern goshawk exist here with West Virginia endemics such as the West Virginia northern flying squirrel and the Cheat Mountain salamander. The high elevation of the river also creates ice floes which supports a scour zone along the river banks, a haven for rare plants such as Barbara’s buttons, sticky false asphodel, and fly poison.
What TNC Is Doing
The Cheat Mountain Conservation Area is one of the most significant areas of biodiversity concentration in West Virginia and the Central Appalachian Ecoregion. The Nature Conservancy has been actively involved with the US Forest Service to protect large areas of the landscape. Since 2000 the Conservancy has worked to buy and transfer over 57,300 acres of mineral rights to the Monongahela National Forest to ensure that the area would be protected from mining. The Conservancy also worked to secure almost 1000 acres of surface ownership along the Shaver Fork River and in the area surrounding the Upper Shavers Preserve through the purchase of former CSX and Elk River Land Company properties. These properties have also been transferred on to the Monongahela National Forest. Through these efforts the Conservancy has helped create a 25-mile long area of the Watershed which is almost 100% public lands.