Why Nature Lovers Should Boycott Douthat
Located within a rain shadow in Virginia’s Valley and Ridge, Douthat State Park is comprised primarily of dry habitat characterized by sparse ecological diversity. Its parched and gravely slopes can only support a few species of oak, pine, and scrubs. Ecologists describe such habitat as ruderal, which is a polite euphemism for wasteland.
Fortunately, Douthat, the only state park in the Alleghany Highlands, also lays claim to a modest stretch of rich bottomland. This bottomland resembles the mixed-mesophytic cove forests found in central West Virginia. This habitat is characterized by a myriad variety of trees and wildflowers. It is Douthat’s diamond in the rough.
Hence I was aghast to see that the park leaders allowed a timber company to harvest a vast expanse of Douthat’s bottomland. Though a few trees were left, this cut resembles a clearcut more than a selective harvest. Without shade the topsoil will dry up and blow away. Without decaying plant matter this top soil won’t be replaced. It will be decades before this forest can recover.
I am calling on nature lovers to abstain from Douthat until whomever made this irresponsible decision resigns.