Cut and run
  The most diverse forest
  Three different forest

  Four seasons
  Colorful fall season
  Flowers galore
  Endangered species
  Lots of forests
  Cutting down the trees
  Forest fun
  Acid Rain

Three Different Forest Areas      From west to east there are three different areas of vegetation which correspond to three physiographic sections of the state. A web site on point with photos is

     Western. The Western Hill Section includes the Allegheny Plateau from the Ohio River to the mountains. The southern portion is more rugged than the northern, a result of strata resistent to erosion.  Streams are dendritic and hills and tributaries are laid out randomly, as any hiker can attest.  Vegetation is part of the Central Hardwood Forest (mixed hardwoods), meaning, from dry to wet -- oak-pine, oak-chestnut, cove hardwoods, mixed mesophytic forests, and flood plain communities.      

      Upland. TheAllegheny Mountain and Upland Section encompasses the mountain ranges oriented northeast-southwest and the deep valleys.   From the air, the further east one goes, they look like humongous, stretched-out, end-to-end dinosaurs forming parallel lines and separated by flat spaces.  These are the highest mountains in the state and typically are covered with Northern Hardwoods and Northern Evergreens.  

     Here, at higher elevations, are spruces (predominantly red spruce until clearcutting destroyed them, e.g., Dolly Sods), balsam fir, red pine, larch, and spruce replacements such as pin cherry, aspen, mountain ash, and paper birch. Hardwoods exist from the lower levels of evergreens to around 2,500 feet.  The principal hardwoods are sugar maple, yellow birch, and beech, and many other species thrive in smaller numbers.  

      The highest areas are characterized by subalpine tablelands such as are on Allegheny Front Mountain, which includes Dolly Sods. They are remote windswept plateaus containing spectacular views.  The highest of these is Roaring Plains which is covered by flagged spruce, huckleberries, meadows, and bogs, and contains state-rare plants and animals. The land is protected by a conservation easement at the behest of The Nature Conservancy, which through the years with the help of the national forest, has protected 21,000 acres. The mountians are home to two endangered species, the Virginia flying squirrel and the Cheat Mountain salamander.

      Here, with a change of elevation of 3,000 feet from base to summit, is where the drainages of the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic slope meet.  The eastern slope and foothills receive much less rain than does the western slope which receives some of the heaviest annual precipitation in the state. To learn more about and to see Dolly Sods    

     Fascinating anomalies occasionally dot the Allegheny Mountain section.  Grass balds are treeless spots on mountaintops reminiscent of subalpine slopes in the Rocky Mountains.  Heath barrens, found near Seneca Creek along the Allegheny Front, are gently rolling mountain-top areas thickly covered with heath shrubs for several miles in width.

      Perhaps the most widely known anomaly is the glades which resemble mossy Canadian bogs.  The Cranberry Glades in Pocahontas County attract many thousands of visitors every year who stroll along a boardwalk in this beautiful, fragile, and special place. Another Ice-Age bog is the Cranesville Swamp Preserve straddling Preston County, West Virginia, and the border of Maryland.  It is protected by The Nature Conservancy.  

      Eastern. The Eastern Ridge and Valley Section beyond the tall mountains includes most of the eastern panhandle.  It is populated by Central Hardwood forests: oaks, pines, hickories, and originally, chestnut.

      Other uncommon features of the state include cliffs and rocky places, or hard rock outcrops, not covered by vegetation. which attract unusual and even rare plants. Hard shale barrens in the South Branch valley and in Greenbrier and Monroe Counties house woody plants and uncommon small flowers. 
Last updated on Thursday, August 17, 2000