New Designation for Monongahela National Forest Announced - Action aims to combat insects and diseases, decrease wildfire risk

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New Designation for Monongahela National Forest Announced - Action aims to combat insects and diseases, decrease wildfire risk

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - West Virginia State Forester Randy Dye praised a new federal designation for Monongahela National Forest (MNF) designed to allow the West Virginia Division of Forestry to work more quickly and effectively with the federal government to combat insect and disease threats to the forest.

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin requested the designation via letter April 7, 2014, citing several threats currently facing MNF, including beech bark disease, hemlock woolly adelgid, gypsy moth and emerald ash borer.

The designation was announced May 20, 2014, by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. It applies to 94 national forest areas in 35 states that are either experiencing or at risk of an insect or disease epidemic. Insect and disease damage makes forests more susceptible to wildfire.

 “I believe the Insect and Disease Area Designation, which was made possible by the 2014 Farm Bill, is an essential tool to protect one of our nation’s greatest treasures, the Monongahela National Forest,” Dye said.

The MNF occupies more than 919,000 acres in 10 West Virginia counties and is located within a day’s drive of approximately half of the nation’s population.

“This designation allows the Forest Service to more quickly plan insect and disease treatments and restoration projects within the designated areas,” Dye said. “I look forward to working with the U.S. Forest Service to help keep the Monongahela National Forest a wild and wonderful place for future generations to enjoy.”

For more information about insect and disease designations, including specific areas, forests by state and the governor’s designation request letter, visit www.fs.fed.us/farmbill/.

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News Release:  June 2, 2014      

Contact:  Leslie Fitzwater Smithson, Public Information Specialist, 304-957-9342 or 304-541-8102, Leslie.C.Smithson@wv.gov