A Natural History of Cranberry Glades, West Virginia

Eric F. Pauley


Round Glade Boardwalk Calopogon tuberosus var. tuberosus (grass pink orchid)

Cranberry Glades Botanical Area is a place of special ecological interest. Located in the eastern mountains of West Virginia, the "Glades" are a set of wetlands that, in some ways, resemble peat bogs typically found much further north in the United States and Canada. Several rare and unusual plants occur here, and the complex wetland environments provide habitats for a magnificent array of wildlife species.

The Glades are outstanding examples of the many mountain wetlands in West Virginia. Situated in a valley about 3400 feet above sea level, they are surrounded on three sides by higher mountain ridges, allowing cool air to accumulate in the valley bottom. These cool conditions have provided a refuge for northern plants and animals as the climate has warmed over the last 10,000-15,000 years.

The area is one small part of the Monongahela National Forest, a vast expanse of West Virginia mountain land managed by the Department of Agriculture's U. S. Forest Service. The broad goal of the Forest Service is to guarantee sustained water, wood, wildlife, recreation, and wilderness resources in perpetuity. The result is large areas of landscape in a variety of natural and semi-natural conditions.

The Botanical Area exists within this mosaic of land uses, and the Forest Service strives to maintain its unique qualities without compromise. Do your part, too: Please explore the area, but please also respect its fragility and importance to future generations.

... And when you visit, make your first stop the Cranberry Mountain Nature Center for information, maps and directions, books, clothing, educational programs, and many other valuable resources!

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