Was there once a sawmill on your land? A logging railroad? An old homestead? Do you know of an unusual tree? An exceptional trail for wildlife watching? This type of information is being sought for the Appalachian Forest Heritage Area”asset mapping”process scheduled for Webster County March 14-15.
“The Appalachian Forest Heritage Area is a regional initiative through the highlands of West Virginia and western Maryland to tell the story of how the forest we live in shapes our history and culture, and how we have impacted the forest,”said West VirginiaUniversitys Jeremy Morris, a program coordinator with the project.
“Goals of the project include education about the forest and forest management, a regional approach to attracting heritage tourists in order to provide economic development and building partnerships to work together for our future.”
Primary themes to be interpreted will include forestry and forest management, natural history of the forest, logging and other history of the area and culture, including arts, music, ethnic contributions and folklore.
Information about sites, pictures, letters or documents and stories related to a wide variety of forest heritage themes is being sought to put together the story of the region and its forests. Several information collectors with computers will take down the information offered and plot sites on a map. They will also scan pictures and documents on the spot, and owners will keep the originals. Only voluntary information will be collected, and sites will not be listed in the database without landowner permission. People who have extensive stories to tell may be identified for follow-up oral history interviews.
Anyone with this type of information is encouraged to attend one of three meetings: Saturday, March 15, WebsterSpringsCommunityBuilding, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., or Sunday, March 16, CowenMunicipalBuilding, 9-11:30 a.m., or ErbaconCommunityBuilding, 2-4 p.m.
Members of the Webster Springs/Webster County AFHA committee will be available to give information about the Appalachian Forest Heritage Area and will answer questions about the effort. Anyone interested in learning more or volunteering to help with the project is encouraged to drop by on Saturday.
Asset mapping for WebsterCounty began last fall with workshops taking place in Cowen, WebsterSprings and HackerValley.
The Canaan Valley Institute in Thomas is working with the AFHA program to develop online community asset maps on the Internet. The current map of WebsterCounty is available at the following web address:http://canaanvi.org/gis/mapping.asp.
The Appalachian Forest Heritage Area program is a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant-supported initiative from WVU Extension Service and the WVU Davis College of Agriculture, Forestry and Consumer Sciences, with a wide variety of partner organizations and stakeholders participating across the 18-county region.
Webster Springs/Webster County is one of three pilot communities selected for initial work with the program. The other pilot communities are Elkins/Randolph County, W.Va., and Oakland/Garrett County, Md..