VetsWork: The Greenbrier Ranger District of the Monongahela National Forest

by | VetsWork

Upon my first trip to the Greenbrier Ranger District (GRD), I was met with a heavy snowfall that unfortunately continued throughout the first couple weeks.

As disappointing as it was, the time spent in the office provided a chance to complete necessary documents such as: required paperwork for obtaining driving licenses, setting up LincPass appointments, and scheduling GIS software installments. More importantly the inclement weather presented the opportunity to meet many of the partners working closely with GRD. Just to mention a few, Green Forest Works, Central Appalachian Spruce Restoration Initiative (CASRI), The Nature Conservancy (TNC), West Virginia Department of Natural Resources (WVDNR) and The National Resource Conservation Services (NRCS).

The continuation of the relentless snowfall, gave my supervisor a chance to brief me on current and upcoming projects. One of the major focuses of the GRD is Red Spruce ecosystem restoration, specifically on reclaimed mine land. After successfully navigating through NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act), sections of the forest which are heavily populated with a non-native species, Red Pine, are respectively marked. The section is then cleared and burrowed (ripped).

The purpose of the ripping is two-fold: 1) to reduce the number of a non-native species, and 2) ripping loosens the densely compacted soil. As you may be able to see in the photo many of the trees appear small in girth considering the maturity of the trees, this is primarily caused by compacted soil. After the ripping process subsides, the land is then ready for planting native species.

One challenge when attempting to plant thousands of native species at a time is actually obtaining the plants. Through intense seed propagation and partners like NRCS, the GRD has been able to introduce plants deriving from the same genetical composition within the forest. This elaborate initiative requires active participation across all sectors both within the GRD and alongside partners. Playing a role in the participation I made weekly trips to NRCS greenhouse in order to prepare some of the plants that will be used this summer in restoration projects throughout the forest.

Additionally, this past week I have been working with different disciplines throughout the district. Tasks have varied from collecting water samples, marking timber boundaries, and erecting bat houses.

As you can see from the vast amount of partnerships, many of the projects vitally rely upon inter-agency cooperation and patience in coordinating efforts. This alone provides me a chance to satisfy one of the goals I had hoped to achieve from the internship–networking.  I look forward to the rest of the time I’ll be working with the GRD and hope to aid in accomplishing their goals for the year.