Monongahela National Forest Update – May 2023

New Ranger for Gauley & Marlinton White Sulphur Ranger District

In February, Forest Supervisor Shawn Cochran selected Randolph County native Jason Hattersley to serve as the district ranger for the Gauley and Marlinton-White Sulphur Districts on Monongahela National Forest.

Hattersley will oversee the management of more than 400,000 acres of National Forest System lands in Greenbrier, Pocahontas, Nicholas, Randolph, and Webster counties. In this new role, he will work with communities, landowners, and other organizations on the shared stewardship of Monongahela National Forest.

Hattersley is a graduate of Dabney S. Lancaster Community College with a degree in forestry. He began his federal career as a firefighter before transitioning into timber management, where he served as a timber market, sale administrator, and timber program manager on the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests.

2023 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Initiative

Forest staff and partners are hard at work on the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Initiative, setting up ornament-making stations at local events and visiting schools to share the message of the Forest Service’s multiple-use mission and ensure we meet our goal of having 10,000 ornaments ready for the holidays.

The tradition of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, also known as The People’s Tree, began in 1964 when a live Christmas tree was planted on the Capitol lawn in Washington, D.C. That tree soon succumbed to wind and root damage. In 1970, the Architect of the Capitol asked the Forest Service to provide a harvested Christmas tree. Since then, a different national forest has provided the tree each year.

This will be the third time Monongahela National Forest has had the honor of providing the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree. Monongahela National Forest provided the first tree in 1970 (40-foot Norway spruce) and another in 1976 (41-foot red spruce).

Once the tree is harvested in early November, it will be packed onto a truck and begin a tour of West Virginia and surrounding states before it is delivered to the Architect of the Capitol. Communities along the way will host events where attendees can view a portion of the tree on the truck, sign the truck banner, and learn more about Monongahela National Forest and the Forest Service’s multiple-use mission. A complete schedule and list of events will be available at once the schedule is set. A public tree lighting ceremony will take place in late November on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol, hosted by the Architect of the Capitol in coordination with the U.S. Speaker of the House.

For more information and to get involved, contact Project Manager Amy Albright at

Timber Program Accomplishment

Timber sales are conducted on national forests to help meet the nation’s timber needs as well as protect and restore ecological systems through their strategic use. Balancing the ecological with the economical, timber sales are a part of the Forest Service’s multiple-use
forest management plan for providing the greatest good to local communities.

Monongahela National Forest has increased timber offered for sale by more than 100% from 2017 to 2023. In 2023, the Forest is planning to advertise 36 million board feet (MMBF) for sale. Three of the sales will be designated for harvest by helicopter. Helicopter sales facilitate harvest operations on slopes too steep for conventional, ground-based harvest. So far in 2023 total target accomplishment is 16.5 MMBF. With approximately 20 MMBF left to be advertised, the total fiscal year award could reach a volume outcome not achieved since the mid-1990s. This means over 3,800 acres of foraging and nesting habitat will be restored for neotropical migrant birds, and pollinators like the monarch butterfly and the endangered rusty patched bumble bee.

Receipts from timber sales are used to support essential reforestation, such as post-harvest site preparation for natural regeneration, seedling planting, tree release, and stocking surveys. Some of the funding is used to support future salvage operations from insects, disease, and storm events. Stewardship sales provide the opportunity to perform services that achieve land management goals meeting local and rural community needs, such as invasive species treatments, mineland restoration, and stream improvements. Other potential improvements include wildlife openings and recreation trail maintenance.

The Forest is also leveraging stewardship timber sales through partnerships with The Nature Conservancy and Ruffed Grouse Society, with receipts reinvested in the forest management projects directly benefitting ecosystem services such as red spruce restoration and ruffed grouse habitat. An active Good Neighbor Authority timber sale is in progress with the West Virginia Division of Forestry.
For more information about Monongahela National Forest’s timber program contact Kirk Piehler at