Glen Jean, W.Va. —New River Gorge National Park & Preserve will host a public ceremony to induct the Burnwood Trail into the Old-Growth Forest Network on Friday, August 4, at 2:00 pm. The Burnwood Trail is located at the Burnwood Day Use Area directly across U.S. Highway 19 from the Canyon Rim Visitor Center in Lansing, West Virginia.
Recent research at the Burnwood Trail confirms that roughly 12 acres of the forest is classified as old-growth, with numerous trees established prior to 1800 and the oldest sampled trees dating back to the 1670s.
Research was led by Dr. Tom Saladyga, Associate Professor of Environmental Geoscience at Concord University in Athens, West Virginia, for an undergraduate class that gave eight students the opportunity to perform scientific research that led to a National Park Service natural resource technical report. The technical report, titled Documenting Remnant Old Growth at New River Gorge National Park & Preserve: A Pre-Industrial Legacy Forest at the Burnwood Area (storage.googleapis.com), is the first research report to document the Burnwood area as old-growth forest.
Most of West Virginia’s forests were considered old growth prior to large scale commercial logging throughout the turn of the 1900s, but now it is estimated that less than one percent of the original forest remains. Old-growth forests provide a window into the historical forests and allow visitors and ecologists to better understand the forests that existed prior to much of the land-use changes of the 1800s, 1900s, and 2000s.
The Old-Growth Forest Network is the only national network in the U.S. of protected, old-growth, native forests where people of all generations can experience biodiversity and the beauty of nature. The goal of the organization is to dedicate at least one protected forest in each county in the United States that can sustain native forest.
New River Gorge National Park & Preserve is home to one previously dedicated forest in the Old-Growth Forest Network at the Stone Cliff Old-Growth area on the Stone Cliff Trail.
The 2:00 pm ceremony at the Burnwood Trail will be followed by an optional 1.2-mile-long guided hike over easy to moderate terrain.
To learn more about the Old-Growth Forest Network, visit Old-Growth Forest Network (oldgrowthforest.net). For more about old growth forests at New River Gorge National Park and Preserve, visit Burnwood: A Legacy Forest – YouTube.