Sprucing Up the Place

Every year Earth Day is a time to celebrate our wonderful planet and the amazing resources it has to offer. From cascading waterfalls nestled in the mountains to the blooming flowers on the desert floor, the Earth has given us awe-inspiring sites, artistic inspiration, and consumable resources. But with increasing urbanization, changing climate, and widespread diseases, our planet is in need of our help. In West Virginia, where Earth Day is every day, people are lending a “limb” to help deter forest degradation and fragmentation.

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Many organizations, including the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, have come
together in common interest to restore the disappearing red spruce to conserve the biodiversity of the region. More than 500,000 acres across Central Appalachia’s high elevations were once covered by red spruce forest. Less than 10 percent of that remains today. What is left is limited to fragmented high ridge tops and protected coves. Red spruce forests are home to over 300 rare plant and animal species including the West Virginia Northern flying squirrel, Cheat Mountain salamander, and the native brook trout.

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This Earth Day, Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge planted nearly 2,500 trees with the help of 62 volunteers. Lauren Merrill, AmeriCorps member serving with the refuge and co-host of the tree planting event, said, “It was raining when the event started, and some people didn’t have rain jackets. Some people even came in shorts! The WVU’s Sierra Student Coalition really pulled through and brought a large group. Everyone was great…” The refuge will have a 4H group come out in May to bring the total to 3,000 planted red spruce. Another organization that held a red spruce planting on Earth Day was The Nature Conservancy at Blackwater Falls State Park. Two AmeriCorps members from our office assisted with restoration efforts.
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Even though the Earth Day festivities have come and gone, it’s a reminder to plant a seed today to ensure the heath and growth of tomorrow.

To get involved in events as described in this article please visit –https://www.fws.gov/refuges/.

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