Northern Research Station News Releases

NEW! Publications on Forests, Floods and The Fernow

Parsons, WV, November 26, 2007 - Everything you wanted to know about forests, floods and the Fernow Experimental Forest (FEF) can be found in three recent publications that are currently available for distribution.  The publications answer critical land management questions about flooding and forests, a very contentious issue, in the state of West Virginia; while addressing the needs of a wide variety of customers such as: landowners and land managers, coal companies, and forest management organizations to name a few. 

 “This trio of publications basically has something for everyone -- the technical review (journal paper) for scientists, the searchable data base (of particular interest to the legal community), and the third publication, a scientific paper, is much more accessible and more oriented toward a lay audience, “said Project Leader and Research Soil Scientist Mary Beth Adams.   “The West Virginia Division of Forestry was so impressed by the scientific paper that they recently requested 200 copies.”

 The publications  highlight the utility of hydrologic models for predicting flooding, provide a searchable database of scientific literature (over 300 publications)  related to forestry and flooding, and provide an analysis of factors contributing to the 50 largest storms occurring on the Fernow Experimental Forest  since 1951.   Important conclusions from these research efforts are:  1)Most hydrologic models are not designed to handle extreme events, such as flooding; therefore such models  must be used as predictive tools with caution;   2)The amount and intensity of rainfall are the main determinants of the level of peakflows (the largest peakflows result in flooding), and during very large storms, harvesting activities did not significantly affect peakflows

Since 2001, Forest Service scientists at the Northern Research Station’s FEF near Parsons, West Virginia have partnered with the West Virginia Division of Forestry and Virginia Tech University on evaluating the effects of forestry activities on flooding. 

The mission of the Parsons, West Virgina Unit is to understand natural and human-induced influences on the sustainability of central Appalachian forest ecosystems, and to provide guidelines for managing these forests to maintain or improve the productivity and diversity of the soil, water and forest resources.

The Parsons Unit is part of a 20-state region at the Northern Research Station comprising the Northeast and the Midwest states.

For copies of the publications, contact Mary Beth Adams.

The U.S. Forest Service is an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a mission of sustaining the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The mission of the Forest Service's Northern Research Station is to improve people’s lives and help sustain the natural resources in the Northeast and Midwest through leading-edge science and effective information delivery.

The U.S. Forest Service manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Public lands the Forest Service manages contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 20 percent of the nation’s clean water supply, a value estimated at $7.2 billion per year. The agency has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 80 percent of the 850 million forested acres within the U.S., of which 100 million acres are urban forests where most Americans live. For more information, visit


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Last modified: November 26, 2007