Forest Service ESA/NFMA success story

The West Virginia northern flying squirrel was removed from the endangered species list a few years ago, apparently mostly the result an effort to restore red spruce trees in the Monongahela National Forest.  This story doesn’t mention the forest plan, but says that 100,000 acres are being “managed primarily for red spruce.”  Here is what the plan says:

“Management Prescription 4.1 emphasizes the active and passive restoration of spruce and spruce-hardwood communities and the recovery of species of concern found in these communities, a mix of forest products, and management of hardwood communities where spruce is not present or represents only a negligible component of a stand, and research or administrative studies on spruce restoration. On lands determined to be suitable habitat for the West Virginia northern flying squirrel, vegetation management initially would be limited to research or administrative studies to determine effective habitat enhancement techniques for the squirrel. After such studies have demonstrated effective techniques, vegetation management to enhance habitat for the squirrel or other TEP species could occur on a larger scale (see FW standard TE61).”

“Objective WF11 – Maintain at least 20,000 acres of mid-late and late successional (>80 years old) spruce forest to provide optimum habitat for West Virginia northern flying squirrel, a Management Indicator Species. The long-term objective is to increase mid-late and late successional spruce forest to at least 40,000 acres.”

According to the de-listing rule:   “Implementation of the amended Appendix A guidelines by the Monongahela National Forest (MNF) effectively abated the main threat to the squirrel (i.e., habitat loss from timber management) throughout the majority of its range, by eliminating adverse impacts on all suitable habitat on the MNF without having to prove WVNFS presence.”

What’s not to like about this as an example of how public land laws can work the way they were intended?  If there’s any easterners more familiar with the back-story, maybe they could share it.

The current interest is related to coverage of the flying squirrel in the April/May issue of The Nature Conservancy Magazine.  Here’s more on red spruce.  

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