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Cranesville Swamp Conifer Restoration #2

Year Planted: 2004
Trees Planted: 2,550
Location: Maryland

Red spruce and spruce/hardwood forests once covered nearly 500,000 acres of western Maryland and West Virginia's mountain valleys. This evergreen canopy created cool microclimates and lush habitat for a diversity of plant and animal life. As early as the 1930s, the importance of spruce in maintaining ecosystem function was hailed, as '...its commercial value is equaled, if not exceeded, by its value as a protection for watersheds in holding the shallow soil to the steep, wet slopes, as a check on the silting up of reservoirs, as a refuge for wild life of many kinds, and as a unique scenic attraction.' Heavy logging in the late 19th century reduced the forest's extent by 99%, leaving only 200 to 300 acres intact. Today, more than 100 years later, this broad landscape and its core areas have yet to recover fully. The swamp habitat is uncommon in the mid-Atlantic and characteristic of more northerly latitudes. The wetland is a mosaic of bog peatland, wet meadow, shrubland, and forest communities that harbors five globally rare species and more than 43 state-listed rare, threatened and endangered species, including the southern water shrew (Sorex palustris punctuatus) and bog copper (Lycaena epixanthe). Conifer cover also maintains cooler climate conditions essential to the health of associated ecological communities, such as open bog peatlands and conifer swamp forest. In an effort to jump-start restoration of Cranesville Swamp, American Forests will reforest 250 acres over a five year period with The Nature Conservancy (TNC). The primary tree species used will be red spruce (Picea rubens). Approximately 16,750 spruce seedlings will be planted within existing hardwood/hemlock forests and along forest edges. Seedlings will be collected and planted by volunteers and local residents, together with State and TNC staff.


This project was supported by our corporate partner, the Alcoa Foundation.

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