Sierra Club NationalWest Virginia Sierra Club
Explore, enjoy and protect the planet
> Chapter Home
> Newsletter Home
> Archives
> Editorial contact

Wildlife Habitat Projects at West Virginia’s Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge
click for print view

by Paul Wilson and Jackie Burns | 2005

New wildlife habitat projects at the Canaan Valley NWR target invasive plant species

Invasive plant species displace native plant species and can have detrimental effects on native wildlife, both game and non-game species.  The West Virginia Sierra Club Chapter will be working with the Canaan Valley NWR staff to initiate a number of invasive species control projects.

The best way to control multiflora rose and autumn olive is to cut it, then paint the stem with an herbicide.  The herbicide is absorbed by the plant, and kills the root without affecting other nearby plants.  The herbicide application part of this would be done by Refuge staff who has received safety training in this procedure.  Wildlife Biologist Ken Sturm is the only one on staff who has the appropriate training, but that may change.  We would like to have 3 - 5 volunteers to work on cutting for each herbicide applicator.

This work could be done anytime, but July or August are best from the standpoint of plant absorption and staff time.  Weekdays are preferred, but we will schedule a Saturday, if needed.  Yellow iris can be controlled by cutting it and painting the stem with an herbicide, or by digging out the root.  If you leave some root, the plant will come back.  Fall is a good time for controlling this species.

Another way to help with this project would be to help map the locations of invasive plants.  This would add to our database of what we know already about these populations.  This could be done by one or two    folks.  After training, they could set their own schedule.  They would need to be familiar with plant identification and with using a GPS unit.  The Refuge staff would train them to identify particular invasive species, and would assign them to a particular area.  They would go out to that area, survey it for invasive species, and GPS the location of any that they find.  This effort could begin in May and go through September.

WE NEED VOLUNTEERS.  If you wish to help in our Invasive Species Control projects, please contact the Chapter Chair or Chapter Conservation Chair, or check the Wildlife or Hunter/Angler items on the Member Interest Form in your Mountain State Sierran.

Additional upcoming projects at the Canaan Valley NWR:
1.  Fence Removal:  Help improve habitat on the Refuge by joining Refuge staff for a fence removal work day on Saturday, July 16th.  Much of the Canaan Valley refuge had been used for grazing for many years.  When the refuge acquired these lands, we also acquired miles of hog wire and barb wire fences.  These fences fragment grasslands and create perches for raptors in fields managed for ground nesting bird species.  These fences can also injure wildlife.

2.  Conifer Restoration:  The Refuge is planning a tree-planting day for restoration of balsam fir and red spruce on National Public Lands Day, Saturday, September 24th.

The refuge is committed to restoring the red spruce ecosystem on the refuge to improve habitat for threatened cheat mountain salamanders and endangered West Virginia northern flying squirrels.  Red spruce also provides habitat for other species such as fisher, snowshoe hare, blackburnian warbler and others.  Red spruce has been reduced by over 90% in West Virginia since the turn of the century from logging and fires.

Balsam fir is a state species of concern and is growing in the southern most part of its range in West Virginia.  Balsam wooly adelgid (an aphid) has been killing mature fir trees in the state and deer browse has hindered regeneration.  Balsam fir trees will be planted on the refuge and fenced from deer to create a continual fir presence and provide a future seed source.

Upcoming events at Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge:

lease come to Canaan Valley NWR and participate in these spring events:

1. Fifth Annual Woodcock Round-up - Saturday, April 23rd at 7 - 9 pm. 
Come out and learn about the flight display of this peculiar upland shorebird.  Then contribute to the science by using what you have learned to participate in a woodcock survey.  A GREAT way to spend Earth Day!

2.  Migratory Bird Count - Saturday, May 14th, morning or all day.  Birders, register in advance with Ken Sturm (304-866-3858 or, go out on your own, and then return the form.  If you would like to go with someone else, let Ken know that too.

Other Articles

  • 2005
    Table of Contents


© copyright Sierra Club 1892-2010