West Virginia’s ‘Land Of Canaan’ Expands Protection

October 27, 2011

Canaan Valley West Virginia

Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Reggie Hall/The Conservation Fund

Key Acquisition Creates Continuous Wildlife Corridor At Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge

Davis, W.V. — Outdoor enthusiasts and songbirds alike have something to sing about in Tucker County today. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and The Conservation Fund announced the addition of 325 acres to Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge (Refuge). The acquisition completes a multi-phase effort to protect one of the largest undeveloped areas of land within the refuge boundary. It connects two areas of the Refuge, securing a significant ecological corridor with the Monongahela National Forest and establishing a critical link in the Heart of the Highlands Trail.

Identified by the USFWS as a top acquisition priority, the property provides ideal nesting habitat for grassland-dependent and forest dwelling migratory song and game birds including American woodcock, golden-winged warbler, indigo bunting, scarlet tanager and Canada warbler. This addition to the Refuge, together with a 120-acre tract conserved in 2008 will ensure enhanced water quality of Flat Run – a high quality, year-round water source and tributary of the Blackwater River.

“The diverse refuge lands already provide a range of wildlife habitats and this new acquisition will help increase habitat for native species,” said Jonathan Schafler, refuge manager at Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge. “We are thankful for our partnership with our senators and representatives in Congress, The Conservation Fund and The Nature Conservancy for making this acquisition possible.”

Canaan Valley is the largest high elevation boreal valley in eastern North America, encompassing over 24,000 acres in the northeastern portion of West Virginia. The region contains 8,400 acres of nationally significant wetlands habitat including 40 different wetland and upland plant communities. Collectively these vital ecosystems support more than 580 different species of plants, more than 280 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish, and two federally listed species – the West Virginia northern flying squirrel and Cheat Mountain salamander. Among this wetland complex is one of the nation’s largest shrub swamps and the fourth largest bog in the eastern United States.

“By protecting the ecological integrity of this area, we are creating crucial buffer zones that secure the highest quality habitat for many species that call the Canaan Valley home,” said Reggie Hall, real estate associate for The Conservation Fund. “We are proud to be a part of these collaborative efforts to protect a West Virginian natural treasure.”

The West Virginia Congressional delegation in 2009 and 2010 played a key role in securing funding for this acquisition through the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a federal land protection program that receives significant revenue from the development of federally-owned offshore oil and gas rights. Additional funding was also made available from The Nature Conservancy.

“Canaan Valley is truly a special place, and we are very grateful for the efforts that are being put forth to preserve it,” said Senator Joe Manchin.

The diverse landscapes of Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge provide a range of outdoor recreational opportunities including hunting, fishing, bicycling, cross-country skiing, and wildlife observation enjoyed by approximately 20,000 Refuge visitors each year. The Refuge’s Draft Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Environmental Assessment predicted that current refuge management activities directly related to all refuge operations would generate an estimated $1.71 million in local output, about 16 jobs and $361,600 in personal income in the local economy over the next 15 years. The 2010 plan also predicted a 15 percent increase in refuge visitation by 2025.

“We are excited to work with The Conservation Fund, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Refuge Manager Jonathan Schafler,” said Gary Daum, managing member of Northlakes, LLC, seller of the property. “The Refuge’s vision for opening the land for public enjoyment is refreshing, exciting, forward thinking and surely respectful of the public’s needs. It is a pleasure to work with the truly professional and devoted people at the Service, the Refuge and the Fund.”

About The Conservation Fund
At The Conservation Fund, we combine a passion for conservation with an entrepreneurial spirit to protect your favorite places before they become just a memory. A hallmark of our work is our deep, unwavering understanding that for conservation solutions to last, they need to make economic sense. Top-ranked, we have protected more than 7 million acres across America.

Press Release Contacts

Ann Simonelli | The Conservation Fund | 703-908-5809 | asimonelli@conservationfund.org

Jonathan Schafler, Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge, (304) 866-3858

  • Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge

    Canaan Valley West Virginia

    Situated at 3,200 feet above sea level, Canaan Valley is the highest valley of its size east of the Rockies. There is a rich and unusual diversity in this wetland valley, where high altitude and a cold, humid climate produce… Read More