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West Virginia has seven state forests encompassing a total of 61,857 acres. Seneca State Forest, the first state forest, was established in 1924. Most of the others were added as state authorities worked with the Civilian Conservation Corps and other federal agencies active in the Great Depression. The initial land purchase for Cabwaylingo was made in 1933. Before its land was purchased in 1934, four major sawmills cut timber in what is now Kumbrabow State Forest. Established in 1936, Coopers Rock is the largest state forest and includes remnants of the early iron ore industry. Greenbrier State Forest was created in 1938. Camp Creek State Forest, established in 1945, includes a state park created in 1987. Calvin W. Price State Forest, the youngest, was created in 1953. Panther State Forest, created in 1940, is now a wildlife management area.

State forests are similar in many respects to state parks but usually have less in the way of accommodations for visitors and are managed under a different philosophy. Whereas state parks are managed for recreation as well as conservation, the state forest system operates under a multiple-use concept including timber production (except at Kanawha State Forest, where commercial logging is prohibited by law), watershed management, wildlife management, esthetics, and recreation. State forests are important for forestry research, and for demonstrating forest management practices. State forests are open to hunting and fishing in season, subject to local regulations. Game food and cover conditions are improved as recommended by wildlife biologists from the Division of Natural Resources, working with foresters from the Division of Forestry.

The principal public attraction of state forests is for day-use and vacation recreation, as well as hunting and fishing. Cabins are available at four state forests. Tent-trailer campsites and recreational facilities are available at all of them.

Historically, the state forests of West Virginia were managed entirely by the West Virginia Division of Forestry, but their administration was transferred to the Department of Natural Resources Parks and Recreation Section in January 1978. The two agencies continue to have concurrent jurisdiction over state forests and work closely through a memorandum of understanding that was prepared the same year.

This Article was written by Robert Beanblossom

Last Revised on August 24, 2023

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Cite This Article

Beanblossom, Robert "State Forests." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 24 August 2023. Web. 20 July 2024.


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