U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service logo A Unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System
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Canaan Valley
National Wildlife Refuge

6263 Appalachian Highway
Davis, WV   26260
E-mail: fw5rw_cvnwr@fws.gov
Phone Number: 304-866-3858
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
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  Wildlife and Habitat

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Wetlands There are relatively few places in West Virginia where ducks call, herons fly, and shorebirds probe the earth for food. Canaan Valley is such a place. Mallards, black ducks and wood ducks nest in her marshes. Solitary and spotted sandpipers are found wherever a small pocket of wetland exists. Timid herons and snipe squawk and fly when encountered. Frogs and salamanders mate in her vernal pools. These are among the many animals you may find in Canaan Valley's wetlands.

A patchwork of 23 wetland types, including bogs, shrub swamps and wet meadows, carpet the valley floor. At approximately 9,500 acres, this is the largest wetland complex in the state of West Virginia, and is a regionally significant wetland complex within the southern Appalachians. Currently, 5,370 acres of these wetlands are on the Refuge. These wetlands provide essential functions to area residents and wildlife.

The ecological functions of wetlands provide valuable services to humankind. Wetlands absorb water and slow it down during heavy storms, reducing downstream flooding. This probably helped the town of Davis during the flood of '85. During times of drought, wetlands slowly release water. Along rivers, they buffer the shoreline, reducing the erosive effects of the water's flow. They filter sediment, trash and pollutants from the water. Without wetlands, we would need more water treatment plants, flood control projects, bank stabilization projects, and relief from natural disasters. An expensive proposition.

Forests Forests of beech, cherry, birch and maple cover the slopes of the mountains and add color to our fall. Scattered stands of spruce, balsam fir and hemlock remind us of the boreal forest that once was the dominant cover type of the valley. Squirrels, ruffed grouse, turkey and bear make their homes in these woodlands. Hermit thrush, ovenbirds and woodland warblers also find their place here. The world's largest diversity of salamanders find their niche in these and other southern Appalachian woodland streams.

Canaan Valley's forests harbor threatened and endangered species on the refuge. The endangered West Virginia northern flying squirrel and the threatened Cheat Mountain salamander are both found on the mountains, in areas with spruce forest cover.

Grasslands These are important for the wildlife, particularly grassland birds, that they hold. Savannah, field and grasshopper sparrows, bobolink and meadowlark are but a few of the species that take advantage of our grassland management areas. Their habitat is in decline nationwide, and, in the east, along their migratory path. This has led to their population decline.

Grasslands are also important during the winter months. They provide foraging areas for rough-legged hawks and migrating northern harriers. The short vegetation allows raptors access to the small mammals who also call grasslands their home.

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