There are several non-native, invasive plant and animal species found in low numbers in Canaan Valley. These include balsam and hemlock woolly adelgid, multiflora rose, autumn olive, reed canary grass, Japanese knotweed, Japanese stiltgrass, and garlic mustard. Refuge staff closely monitor adelgid populations and are examining the possibility of using experimental treatments including beetle releases as potential future tools to battle these insects. Non-native plants on the refuge are “tracked down” by the refuge’s volunteer invasive species group – a group of about 35 volunteers who survey roads, trails, and transects each year. Once these invasive plants are located, refuge staff eradicate them using a variety of methods like hand-pulling, cutting, and herbicide application.
In Canaan Valley, fires and logging activity followed by years of grazing in some areas have created conditions not suitable for natural tree succession. In areas that were historically forested but have not regrown, refuge staff and volunteers replant native tree and shrub species. Planting events are organized during the spring and fall months and include a variety of tree and shrub species. Some species, including red spruce and balsam fir are planted to expand and connect conifer habitat for rare species including the Virginia Northern flying squirrel and Cheat Mountain salamander. In other areas, early successional species like quaking aspen and speckled alder are planted to create habitat for birds like American woodcock, Eastern towhee, brown thrasher, and field sparrow.
Follow Us Online
A patchwork of 23 wetland types, including bogs, shrub swamps and wet meadows carpet the valley floor. At about 8,500 acres, this is the largest wetland complex in the state of West Virginia, and is a regionally significant wetland complex within the southern Appalachians.