West Virginia: The Comeback Kid

Reviving West Virginia’s Natural Areas

BY Randy Edwards

West Virginia’s Cheat Mountain is a storied massif with a history of Civil War battles, vertiginous railroad passes, and trout-filled mountain streams. With a ridgeline stretching nearly 50 miles between Elkins to the north and Snowshoe Mountain ski resort to the south, the mountain encompasses more land above 4,500 feet than all the mountains in Maine, New York and Vermont combined.

That high elevation, combined with abundant rainfall, led to a widely praised attribute of Cheat Mountain: its magnificent red spruce timber. About a century after the first spruce logs were cut by Union soldiers during the Civil War, Cheat’s ancient forest was nearly gone.

Like many places in West Virginia, however, Cheat Mountain has become a story of recovery and renewal. Red spruce forest restoration is just one example of the many ways in which The Nature Conservancy is nurturing West Virginia back to health. Here are some highlights.


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