West Virginia

Forest Action Plan

The Nation’s Third Most Heavily Forested State

This West Virginia Forest Resource Assessment & Strategy (FRAS) provides a comprehensive analysis of forestry, forests, and related natural resources in the state. It identifies major issues and priority landscapes, as well as strategies to be undertaken in addressing these issues. The FRAS provides focus on the most pressing issues and will help direct resources toward areas of greatest impact. The WVDOF will strive to: reduce environmental threats to the state’s forests; make positive impacts on local and state economies; protect sensitive and important habitats, waterways, and ecosystems; improve the quality and condition of West Virginia’s rural and urban forests; and increase the public’s understanding of the value of the state’s nearly 12 million acres of forests.

Conserve

Conserving diverse, healthy, and sustainable forests that are managed for a variety of multiple resource values

Wildfire management, with its goals of protecting forest resources and ensuring public safety, has always been one of the top priorities of the West Virginia Division of Forestry. In fact, it was the initial reason for establishment of the agency over 100 years ago. The devastating 1908 fire season burned more than 1.7 million acres. Subsequently, the Reform Law of 1909 set up what was to become the WVDOF with its primary mission: to protect the state’s forests from wildfires. Today, the agency has primary responsibility for protecting nearly 12 million acres of forest land in West Virginia. The fire program is now even more complex in all phases: prevention, preparedness, and suppression. The complexities include the wildland-urban interface, burning coal seams, socio-economic factors, training and availability of personnel, and other issues. An average year might see several hundred wildfires burning a total of 20,000 – 30,000 acres of forests. About 70 percent of the wildfires in West Virginia result from careless debris burning or arson. Reducing these numbers is a top priority for the WVDOF.

Protect

Protecting forests from wildfires, forest health pests, and other harmful threats

West Virginia is nearly 80 percent forested. Conserving those forests; managing them in a sustainable manner; protecting forest health and water quality; providing habitat diversity; and better educating the public about the importance of our forests – these are all goals of the Division of Forestry. Numerous strategies, as outlined in the state FRAS, will be employed to help us reach these goals and to address various issues facing the state’s forests.

Enhance

Enhancing all forest values, including habitat diversity, water quality, urban benefits, and improving public knowledge of these values

Logging and forest-based industries are an integral part of West Virginia’s economy, accounting for approximately $4 billion annually and more than 30,000 jobs. Each of the state's 55 counties contains some segment of the wood industry as a source of economic impact. WVDOF is charged by statute with encouraging and assisting in the expansion of forest industry in the state. The advancement of the forest products sector cannot be accomplished without a healthy and sustainable forest resource. Due to the importance of this industry to West Virginia and its residents, it is vital that the industry remains strong and that the state’s forest resources remain healthy and sustainable.