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Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor:

In response to the February 8 article by WVDNR promoting logging in WV State Parks:

Any logging in West Virginia State Parks is an exceedingly bad idea.

It is an idea seemingly not well thought out as proponents have enumerated a changing list of reasons for the proposal.  What started as a way to fund the maintenance backlog in our State Parks has now become a tool whereby the Parks become more like wildlife management areas.  The proposal is widely opposed.  

To quote West Virginia forester Amy Cimarolli in her open letter A Forester Speaks Out Against Logging in WV Parks, ( SOSPCi marolli), A national study reports that more people in the U.S. own forests for beauty and retreat than timber production and hunting.  State Parks forests provide places of beauty, for study, play, and retreat.

WVDNR’s very own “WV State Wildlife Action Plan” lists adverse impacts caused by logging:

Amphibians: Fragmenting or otherwise degrading habitat exposes amphibian populations to other environmental stresses which act in concert to threaten population viability. Fragmentation manifests itself differently according to the species affected but can include draining wetlands, converting seasonal wetlands to permanent water bodies, and logging intact forests.

Fragmentation and loss of forest cover is a primary concern for the Appalachian endemic salamanders. The largest and most extensive populations tend to occur in areas with extensive forest cover. Maintaining an extensive forest canopy is important to maintaining suitable habitats within forest microclimates. Roads and utility corridors fragment forest salamander populations and changes in forest floor structure, especially downed woody debris and leaf litter accumulation, can substantially reduce salamander populations.

Birds: Forest patches are increasingly fragmented statewide, and associated risks to birds that rely on forest interior habitats have increased…. Threats include habitat fragmentation and alteration from energy development and other sources, habitat loss on wintering grounds…. Forest fragmentation and loss of forest interior habitat has become particularly problematic in West Virginia in the last few decades.

In the February 8 article, WV Division of Forestry Director Barry Cook says, “Select state park properties have over matured…”  

Over mature is a term used by loggers to describe trees that are too old to be good saw logs. Over mature trees can live for hundreds more years. 

From an ecological perspective, over 90% of ecosystem services provided to the forest by a particular tree happen after the tree dies.  It provides habitats and microhabitats, runoff protection, soil nutrients…

Because humans up to that time had done an exceedingly poor job managing timberlands, West Virginia formed its State Park system 80 years ago and set aside the land to be free from logging in perpetuity.   It is an area of land totaling only 80,000 acres, about ½ of 1 percent of the total land area of West Virginia.

Eighty years ago, these special lands were set aside effectively intended  to be managed by God, not man.  Let us keep it that way.

Truly yours,
Frank Gifford

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