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Canaan Valley, July 1999
Canaan valley, July 1999 Photo: Kevin J. DesRoberts, Refuge Manager

Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge

Sitting high in the Allegheny mountains in eastern Tucker County is a unique and beautiful area known as Canaan Valley, fourteen miles long and five miles wide. It the highest valley of its size east of the Rocky Mountains, with an average elevation of 3,200 feet above sea level. The high altitude and cool, moist climate have created a unique wetland and northern forest treasure in Canaan Valley.

In 1994, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife purchased land establishing Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge to maintain the ecological diversity of the valley for future generations. Predominantly shrub swamps and bogs, Canaan Valley's 6,700 acres of freshwater wetland area is the largest in central and southern Appalachia. The valley's extensive ecosystem was specifically identified as a priority for protection at the federal level under the Emergency Wetlands Resources Act of 1986. In recognition of the valley's distinctive attributes, the Secretary of the Interior designated a portion of Canaan Valley a National Natural Landmark in 1974. The valley was praised for its grandeur and magnificence and compared to Yosemite and Yellowstone valleys.

The valley supports many unusual and rare plants, not only for West Virginia, but for the Eastern United States. Forty different wetland and upland plant communities support more than 580 species of plants. In turn, the diversity of plants and habitats support an equally varied wildlife - more than 290 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish. The valley provides nationally recognized seasonal habitat for migrating woodcock and other migratory birds. The endangered Virginia northern flying squirrel and the threatened Cheat Mountain salamander also find haven at the refuge.

Documentation includes photos, slides, the 1994 dedication brochure, and a 10-page report.

Originally submitted by: Allan B. Mollohan, Representative (1st District).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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