Canaan valley, July 1999 Photo: Kevin J. DesRoberts, Refuge Manager
Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge
Sitting high in the Allegheny mountains in eastern
Tucker County is a unique and beautiful area known as Canaan
Valley, fourteen miles long and five miles wide. It the highest
valley of its size east of the Rocky Mountains, with an average
elevation of 3,200 feet above sea level. The high altitude and
cool, moist climate have created a unique wetland and northern
forest treasure in Canaan Valley.
In 1994, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife purchased land
establishing Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge to maintain the
ecological diversity of the valley for future generations.
Predominantly shrub swamps and bogs, Canaan Valley's 6,700 acres of
freshwater wetland area is the largest in central and southern
Appalachia. The valley's extensive ecosystem was specifically
identified as a priority for protection at the federal level under
the Emergency Wetlands Resources Act of 1986. In recognition of the
valley's distinctive attributes, the Secretary of the Interior
designated a portion of Canaan Valley a National Natural Landmark
in 1974. The valley was praised for its grandeur and magnificence
and compared to Yosemite and Yellowstone valleys.
The valley supports many unusual and rare plants, not
only for West Virginia, but for the Eastern United States. Forty
different wetland and upland plant communities support more than
580 species of plants. In turn, the diversity of plants and
habitats support an equally varied wildlife - more than 290 species
of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish. The valley
provides nationally recognized seasonal habitat for migrating
woodcock and other migratory birds. The endangered Virginia
northern flying squirrel and the threatened Cheat Mountain
salamander also find haven at the refuge.
Documentation includes photos, slides, the 1994
dedication brochure, and a 10-page report.
Originally submitted by: Allan B. Mollohan, Representative (1st District).
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