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State has much to offer in timber

April 30, 2012
By John Clise - Staff Writer , The Inter-Mountain

Through conservation, plentiful resources, smart land management, a qualified work force and diligent oversight, West Virginia continues to be one of the top producers of hardwood on the eastern seaboard.

Doug Parsons, Lewis County Economic Development director and Hardwood Alliance Zone representative, said West Virginia has the second largest state inventory of merchantable eastern hardwood timber in the U.S. and the highest per-acre volume of merchantable hardwood timber in the U.S. - making the Mountain State very appealing to many facets of the timber business.

Though the industry has been up and down because of the rebounding economy, timber businesses still stand to benefit from the states strong timber reserves and a highly trained work force.

Officials from Weyerhaeuser praise the work force in West Virginia "highly skilled" and "loyal."

State statistics show West Virginia is 76 percent timberland, with 12 million acres. It's a renewable resource to benefit the economy and families for years to come.

In 2008, the most recent statistics available for all eastern hardwood species production, West Virginia ranked fifth highest for production.

Also in 2008, West Virginia ranked second in the top 20 eastern hardwood production states.

The Monongahela National Forest is located in east central West Virginia, including portions of Barbour, Grant, Greenbrier, Nicholas, Pendleton, Pocahontas, Preston, Randolph, Tucker and Webster counties. The forest has more than 921,000 acres within the Allegheny Mountains of the Appalachian System. When the Monongahela National Forest was created by Congress in 1920, much of the land was devoid of forest. Since then, time and resource management, such as tree planting and fire protection, have helped the land recover.

Many of the 70-plus species of trees found on the Monongahela are valuable for commercial wood products as well as wildlife habitat. Especially valuable are black cherry, sugar maple and red oak. Most of the forest is contiguously forested, containing 70- to 100-year-old stands that provide habitat for interior-dwelling species.

The state auctions off timber to the highest bidder as a way to create economic development, produce jobs and continue to prepare forest lands for the needed rejuvenation of woods for future generations.

State officials recently auctioned off timber in the Greenbrier and Seneca state forests and plan to auction off timber in Cabwaylingo State Park in May.

Monies from these auctions allow the state to continue to manage forest lands and continue with conservation programs.



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