Monongahela National Forest Gets New Federal Designation
The West Virginia Division of Forestry just got a major tool to help combat forest disease and invasive species. Through an act of congress, the Monongahela National Forest has just been designated an “Insect and Disease Area.” The designation is designed to streamline efforts to combat insect and disease threats.
The Insect and Disease Area Designation was announced on May 20th by US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. It was made possible through the 2014 Farm Bill and applies to 94 national forests areas in 35 states that are either experiencing or at risk of an insect or disease epidemic.
Governor Earl Ray Tomblin requested the designation for the Monongahela National Forest in April citing threats that include beech bark disease, the hemlock woolly adelgid, gypsy moths, and the emerald ash borer.
The Mon National Forest covers almost a million acres across 10 counties in West Virginia. The designation will allow the Forest Service to more efficiently combat the threats with treatments and restoration projects.
“Insects don’t wait for years for us to go through our processes," said direstor of the West Virginia Division of Forestry, Randy Dye. "It’s something we have to get a handle on, and do very quickly or we’re not going to have the forest in the future that we do today. It’ll be something totally different. So this is a step in the right direction so that we can address those issues.”
In a news release the Forest service says that damage from insects and disease make the forest more susceptible to wildfire.