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The Fernow Experimental Forest

The lush scenery found in the Fernow Research Forest is some of the most pristine in West Virginia's Cathedral HighlandsDescription: The Fernow is located in one of the most mountainous regions of the Mountain State and is an active research forest.   The purpose of this experimental forest is to foster a better understanding of West Virginia's forests, water, soil and wildlife resources in order to protect and conserve these valuable resources.   This research area was carved from the Monongahela National Forest in 1934 because it is representative of many of West Virginia's forests.

Viewing Information : Although the Fernow is fairly small at 4,700 acres, it is highly diverse, has good roads, and provides numerous wildlife viewing opportunities. The forest is an excellent place to see neotropical migratory songbirds in the spring and summer. White-tailed deer, ruffed grouse, wild turkey, black bear and several species of squirrel are present.

The amphibian and reptile populations are diverse.   Salamanders include the redback , spotted, mountain dusky, Appalachian seal, slimy, Wehrle's , four-toed, northern spring, northern red and northern two-lined.   The Appalachian seal salamander can be found during the day under rocks in cool mountain streams.   The Appalachian seal salamanderThe slimy salamander is active at night or in the afternoon following warm rains.   The four-toed salamander prefers hardwood forests, but during spring, females migrate to bogs to deposit eggs.

Fernow staff provide “show-me” trips, providing a lecturer or a guided tour through the forest.   Contact Mary Beth Adams at the Timber and Watershed Laboratory, Nursery Bottom, Parsons, WV 26287 or phone 304-478-2000.    Check with the manager for hunting seasons and affected areas.   The Fernow is an active research forest. Please do not disturb the forest.

Directions: At the junction of U.S. Highway 219 and State Rt. 72 in Parsons, follow U.S. 219 north 0.2 mile (just over the bridge) to the sign for Otter Creek Wilderness.   Turn right and then make an immediate left (the road is not marked).   Proceed 1.3 miles to the fork and bear right at the sign for Forest Road 701.   Go 0.2 mile to the entrance.

Ownership : USDA Forest Service (304) 478-2000.

--Excerpt from the WV Wildlife Viewing Guide by Mark Damian Duda . Available from the DNR.