Monongahela National Forest Update—November 2023

By Kirk Piehler, Natural Resources Staff Officer, Monongahela National Forest

FY2023 Timber Sales

Fiscal Year 2023 timber sales on the Monongahela National Forest will result in future restoration of almost 2,000 acres of forested areas, providing for wildlife habitat, as well as healthy and resilient trees for many generations. This restoration is resulting from sales of 27.4 MMBF in 2023 of primarily hardwood stumpage. The last time a similar annual timber sale outcome occurred was 1995 when the Forest awarded 25.6 MMBF.

Of the nine sales involved in the 2023 program, eight were conventional harvest and one was helicopter harvest. Helicopter sales facilitate operations on slopes too steep for conventional, ground-based harvest. Since 2020 conventional harvests have made up the majority of 35 awarded advertisements. The Forest has averaged about nine awards per year with a range of seven sales in 2020 and 2021, with twelve in 2023. That same four-year span produced an average sale volume of 2 MMBF and average sale area of 206 acres. As sale volume has increased from 16.4 MMBF to 27.4 MMBF, so has timber sale revenue, increasing from $556,166 in 2020 to approximately $2.26 million in 2023.

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

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 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 on the Monongahela National Forest such as restoring historic red spruce stands and creating ruffed grouse habitat.

The Forest Service coordinates directly with partners of stewardship agreements, assisting in the implementation of timber harvesting, providing financial accounting services, tracking accomplishment activities, posting sale information in our annual program announcements, and collaborating on agreement projects, such as non-commercial spruce release and non-native invasive species treatment. The stewardship partner also has access to Forest Service staff to support on site pre-bid sale showings.

Spruce Release with The Nature Conservancy

Mature red spruce forests provide numerous benefits including habitat for hundreds of wildlife species, substantial carbon storage potential, and climate resilience to increasing temperatures and increasingly common intense rain events. Once covering more than a million acres across West Virginia, mature red spruce forests now cover about 50,000 acres, much of it within Monongahela National Forest.

On thousands of additional acres, red spruce occurs only in the under and midstory, suppressed from reaching the forest canopy by overtopping deciduous trees. To restore the red spruce ecosystem and its many benefits, the Forest Service partners with The Nature Conservancy to restore these midstory red spruce to the canopy through “spruce release” projects.

Spruce release accelerates the growth of midstory red spruce and the time to reach the forest overstory by removing overtopping deciduous trees that suppress their growth. In addition to past non-commercial spruce release work, The Nature Conservancy manages commercial spruce release timber sales within the Monongahela National Forest that will ultimately result in useable forest products, support to the local economy, and restoration of the ecosystem benefits spruce forests are known for.

FY2024 Timber Sales

For FY2024, Monongahela National Forest plans to advertise about 31 MMBF with most of the sale activity occurring in the second half of the year. As was the case in 2023, most of the sale activity is identified for conventional harvest, including ten of the planned 12 sales. More information regarding the FY2024 program is included in the two timber program announcements available on the Forest Service public website at

For more information about the Timber Program on Monongahela National Forest contact Kirk Piehler at