Monongahela National Forest is analyzing a proposal to improve general forest health and resiliency, red spruce/northern hardwood forests, wildlife habitat, and recreational experiences in the Cranberry Spring Creek Project Area on the Gauley Ranger District.
The project area is located north and east of Richwood, West Virginia in Greenbrier, Nicholas, Pocahontas, and Webster counties. It includes approximately 69,000 acres of National Forest System land primarily within the Cranberry River and Spring Creek watersheds, with a small portion in the adjacent Gauley River and Williams River watersheds. Bishop Knob Campground, Cranberry Glades Botanical Area, Cranberry Mountain Nature Center, and Falls of Hills Creek Scenic Area are all recreation sites within the project area.
Proposed management actions in the project area were developed by comparing existing conditions on the ground with desired conditions described in the Monongahela National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan (Forest Plan). The Forest Plan is available online at www.fs.usda.gov/main/mnf/landmanagement/planning.
Forest managers have identified the need to increase the quantity and quality of early successional forests in Management Prescription (MP) 3.0 (Vegetation Diversity) areas and MP 6.1 (Wildlife Habitat Emphasis) areas. In MP 3.0 areas, less than 2% is early successional while desired condition is 12–22%. MP 6.1 areas are also lacking in young forest habitat, which is necessary for many wildlife species. Clearcutting with reserves, shelterwood and group selection harvests on 1,679 acres are proposed.
In MP 4.1 (Spruce and Spruce-Hardwood Restoration) areas, forest managers have an opportunity to increase the amount of red spruce in the overstory. Commercial thinning for spruce restoration is proposed on 2,108 acres, with non-commercial spruce restoration on 125 acres.
The forest within much of the project area is very densely stocked. As overstocked stands age, they are less likely to resist pests or disease and are unlikely to develop into diverse, healthy stands. Forest managers have proposed to thin 5,937 acres of the project area. To improve forest health, selected trees would also be released or vines removed on 640 acres.
In all, forest managers have proposed to treat 10,489 forested acres, or about 15% of the project area with commercial timber harvest or non-commercial release treatments.
The Cranberry Spring Creek Project also includes prescribed burning and additional proposed actions to improve other forest resources such as botany, aquatics, recreation, and cultural resources. More detailed information about the Cranberry Spring Creek Project, including the proposed action, frequently asked questions, and a copy of the May 2021 virtual meeting presentation, can be found at www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=58824.
A public comment period on the Cranberry Spring Creek Environmental Assessment is anticipated in Fall 2021. A decision is anticipated in 2022. Project implementation would occur over the next 10 years. Ask to be added to the project’s mailing list by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.