Why Nature Lovers Should Boycott Douthat

Bottomland after the "selective harvesting"

Bottomland after the "selective harvesting"

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.


4 Responses to “Why Nature Lovers Should Boycott Douthat”

  1. calpattypress Says:

    I can’t quite believe it myself, and who’s pocket did the proceeds go?

  2. I have no idea where the money went. Virginia’s economy is struggling but that is no excuse to sacrifice the prime forest of the only state park in the Alleghany Highlands.

    I asked someone in a uniform but they didn’t know much.

    My theory is that park ecologists insisted that the harvesting would be good for the forest. Such “management” is often the raison d’etre for several ecologists on the pay roll.

    All this clear cutting has secured their jobs because now there will be need for intense monitoring: to make sure invasive species don’t colonize the open area, to watch for gypsy moths which are known to breed in young forests, and to control erosion.

    A friend of mine who is working at Mammoth Cave Park says the ecologists there are burning the same piece of land every few years. Intense fires naturally occur every 50-100 years. Such “management” is job security.

    The picture I put on here is only one stretch. They “selectively” harvested about five times this much.

    It is just such a shame.

  3. Smitheriny Says:

    I suggest you call the park manager for an explanation then the head of DCR in Richmond. Ask when was the public notified, in what manner, and was there a public comment period or meeting. Then ask why not and demand action with contact to the govenors office and secretary of natural resources. By the way, I am an ecologist. Clear cutting and burning are not techniques utilized by us for job security. In fact, we are being laid off because we are the first to go when budgets decline. I don’t know any ecologists that support clearcutting. This is usually advocated by foresters that are taught in college that old forests are no longer productive. Many species of plants have become endangered since we began supressing fires with European colonization of America. Fire brings them back and helps control certain invasive species without the use of chemicals. Obtain the facts before perpetuating myths. Call the park manager and find out the reason they logged the place, how much area was logged, and what the future plans are. Abstaining from Douthat will accomplish nothing. Contacting your state leaders to let them know you are angry as hell will.

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