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Researchers work to restore iconic West Virginia red spruce forests 

Still Waters

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Posted (IP: Staff) ·

Clearcutting and wildfires decimated the red spruce, once the dominant, high-elevation tree species in West Virginia, in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Nowadays, only 10% of the state's historic red spruce coverage remains and it faces a new threat in climate change.  

West Virginia University researchers Donald Brown and James Thompson with the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design are working toward restoring some of the original tree habitat by studying the long-term effects of warming temperatures on red spruce and the creatures that call that ecosystem home.  

One finding is clear: climate change is a serious threat to red spruce because of where it grows.  

The northern tree species follows the cool, wet Appalachian ridges down into North Carolina, but rising temperatures limit the chances for survival. 


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