White oak, one of the species being planted. Credit: Vern Wilkins, Indiana University

Project Name:
North River Oak Restoration

George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, Va.

Key Activities:

  • Planting 5,000 trees across 60 acres
  • Reforesting an ecosystem damaged by the gypsy moth
  • Restoring wildlife habitat

Project Description:
American Forests and the U.S. Forest Service are reforesting 60 acres of Virginia’s George Washington and Jefferson National Forests with 5,000 northern red and white oak to restore an area that had to be harvested due to damage by the invasive gypsy moth.

Why This Project:
In the late 1860s, the gypsy moth found its way from Europe to North America and has been invading and destroying forests ever since. The gypsy moth feeds on a variety of species, but commonly affects oaks and aspen. Found now, throughout most of the U.S., the gypsy moth is wreaking a high amount of damage in the southern Appalachian Mountains, Ozark Mountains and the Lake States.

Areas of Virginia’s George Washington and Jefferson National Forests were severely damaged by gypsy moth, which led to the harvesting of the area’s oak. The area has also suffered from invasion by Ailanthus, aka the “Tree of Heaven.” This project is reforesting gypsy moth-affected and Ailanthus-invaded areas with northern red and white oaks.

Why George Washington and Jefferson National Forests:
At 1.8 million acres, George Washington and Jefferson National Forests make up one of the largest areas of public land in the East. The forests are home to more than 200 species of birds, 78 species of amphibians and reptiles, 100 species of freshwater fish and mussels and 60 species of mammals, including 53 federally listed threatened or endangered animal and plant species.

The project area’s oaks once provided food and habitat to a variety of animals, including bear and wild turkey. Restoring oaks to the damaged areas in these national forests is benefiting myriad wildlife species.

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