The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will plant 12,000 native balsam fir and red spruce seedlings in wetland, upland and riparian habitat in the Canaan Valley and Blackwater River watershed. It will also collect cones locally and process the seeds secure the supply of red spruce and balsam fir seedlings for the Refuge, the Monongahela National Forest, Canaan Valley State Park, and other land managers. There are currently no commercially available seedling sources for red spruce or balsam fir. The forests have been degraded by logging, fire and mining operations. The reforestation project will benefit wildlife such as fisher, snowshoe hare, saw whet owl, northern goshawk, the federally threatened Cheat mountain salamander and federally endangered West Virginia northern flying squirrel. The planting of the riparian corridors will improve water quality and cold water fisheries by increasing shading of headwater stream and river habitat. The Fish and Wildlife Service will work with the Friends of the 500th, Aldridge Academy, Highlands Conservancy, Davis and Elkins college students, West Virginia University students, and TNC volunteers to plant the trees.
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