Mapping Project Uses Data to Guide WV Conservation Efforts
Monday, December 20, 2021
Conservation experts in the state are expanding a forest mapping tool to assess the impact of development on thousands of acres of public lands.
Board member with the Allegheny Blue Ridge Alliance and West Virginia Highlands Conservancy Rick Webb explained there are dozens of projects underway or under consideration within the three National Forests in the Central Appalachian Highlands region.
He said most projects involve clear-cutting and road-building, which increase the vulnerability of the forests' ecosystem and watershed.
"We're concerned that any new logging done now, a hundred years after the big cut, be done in a way to preserve these forests," said Webb, "to retain their function, to supply clean, cool water."
The Highlands contain the headwaters of major river systems in the eastern U.S, including the Potomac, James and Cheat rivers.
Webb added that the steep mountain slopes and soil types make the area among the most landslide-prone in the country, which affects water quality and is worthy of special conservation attention.
Dan Schaffer is a CSI Geospatial Consultant with the Allegheny Blue Ridge Alliance who helped create the mapping tool, based on Geographic Information System technology.
He said he believes the public should be involved in the review process for development projects that could potentially affect the region's diversity of plants and animals.
"It's murky, it's often driven as much by interest as science," said Schaffer. "And for the average person, they're really taken out of that process. We're trying to give them a seat at the table again."
He added the tool offers accessible information on topography and geography, water quality and soil erodibility, along with locations and boundaries of proposed projects for the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia, and the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests in Virginia and West Virginia.
get more stories like this via email
Frustrated environmental and clean-energy advocates say after four long years of debate and compromise, regulators sent Arizona back to the starting …
When North Dakotans head out to cast their ballots later this year, there is a chance some will do so in a voting center and not a designated …
South Dakota continues to grapple with its low ranking when it comes to paying schoolteachers, but the issue is getting focus in 2022, including a …
Health and Wellness
Washington state lawmakers are considering a measure to limit the growing cost of prescription drugs. Senate Bill 5532 would establish a …
The state of Illinois is allocating nearly a quarter-billion dollars to support new downstate transit and ports projects. Roughly half will go …
Health and Wellness
Advocates and faith groups are calling for more investments in harm reduction across the state, as new provisional data shows overdose deaths have …
More than 300 Kentucky farmers participated in the state's Farms to Food Banks program last year, and at a recent virtual rally, state officials said …
Farmers and ranchers in Montana and across the nation are calling on Congress to pass the American Beef Labeling Act. Most food is required to have …