Foresters in many different disciplines from across West Virginia gathered at Glenville State College this week for the annual meeting of the state's chapter of the Society of American Foresters. One of the main discussion topics was mapping and surveying forested land throughout the state. That's more than 12 million acres split among many people.
"Sixty percent of the forested property here in West Virginia is owned by small, individuals or family forest owners. It's a very large amount, and then twenty-seven percent is owned by private companies, so approximately 87 percent of our forest is owned by private entities," said state chair Dave McGill.
And since each group has different uses in mind, boundaries become very important.
Students from across the state were also on hand for the event. The state chapter sent a group of students to a national conference in Spokane, Washington. Students said they learned a lot to bring back to foresters in West Virginia.
"We saw how people do forestry in different parts of the country, because it's different anywhere you go. In the south, in the northeast, in the west, it's different. Everyone has their own perspective on litigation, legal issues, laws, it's different everywhere you go, so it's interesting to get a different perspective from other parts of the country that you can apply here," said Aaron Holley, a WVU student and state student chapter president.
However people use the state's forested land, Glenville Professor Charles Sypolt said people need to remember the important role forests play in the world.
"I think most people do not appreciate the forest as much as they should. They do not realize that it is the agent that cleans the air, produces oxygen that we all need, and we sort of take it for granted that it's there when we need it," Sypolt said.