Why Watoga State Park Should Be Spared from Logging

Why Watoga State Park should be spared from logging.  Speaking as an individual who has a fair amount of familiarity and interest in Watoga State Park, I see the logging of the park as contrary to the intentions of its design and conception nearly 80 years ago.   As a volunteer trail worker I have tread every foot of the 40 plus miles of trail here many times over.  I am often deeply moved by the wisdom of those who saw the unique qualities of this park so many years ago and recognized the need to protect and preserve it for future generations.

Monongaseneka Overlook of Greenbrier River Feb, 2018One only has to walk out Ann Bailey Trail to once again marvel at the peace and tranquility that these old growth forests and meadows provide.  The Arboretum, dedicated in 1938, was intentionally built as an “outdoor laboratory”.  Those who venture out on her trails can learn about the many species of trees, plants and shrubs found within the park.  At least one area of the park hosts one of the rarest orchids in North America, the Small Whorled Pogonia.  It is so decimated it is considered an endangered and protected species.

An Appeal for the Beauty of Nature

I am not an anti-logging proponent by any means.  As a former park ranger I recognize that logging is a necessary industry here in West Virginia.  I know when done properly it can be a sustainable and environmentally friendly industry.  But what I am appealing to now has far more to do with preserving a relatively small area of forest for reasons that have nothing to do with money.  Rather, it has everything to do with respect for history and the wisdom to keep some areas of great beauty sacrosanct just because it is the right thing to do.
I know that I am not alone in this sentiment.  I hear this from the people who come to Watoga year after year.

Some families have been visiting the park for several generations.  When asked why,  they most eagerly tell you it has to do with the atmosphere of the park.  Some call it a sense of wilderness.  Just yesterday I talked with Carlene and Jon Cox of Parkersburg who stay in one of Watoga’s cabins several times a year.  They pass several state parks on their drive down to Watoga.  And when you ask them why they do not hesitate to explain that it is the quality and length of the trails here.  Such sentiments speak loudly to what has been preserved in this one park.

Experience of Rock Run

I, like many folks I know, came here on a visit and ended up moving here.  Why? In my case it was my first visit. I came here to camp and hike.  My first morning here I put on my hiking boots an d started up Jesse’s Cove.  I was awed by its beauty.  Rock Run tumbling from one pool to the next; columbines and Christmas ferns hanging from moss covered cliffs and this wonderful path that ascended the stream flanked by steep hillsides clad with towering trees.  I have heard other people compare such places to entering a vast cathedral.  I felt it that day.  And I still feel to this very day.  So much so I made this area my home.


Yes, Watoga State Park offers these kinds of experiences because it is truly unique, one of a kind.  Don’t we have an obligation to protect these kinds of places that do so much for the soul.  To do so is truly an act of wisdom and demonstrates the very best of humanity.  A masterpiece is always better left untouched.

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Thinking of stopping by woods on a snowy evening as Arrowhead and Jesse’s Cove were cleared of obstacles yesterday and today.   We cleaned limbs off of the Greenbrier River Trail from Watoga Crossing to Workman Road.

This will be the last trail report until early February.  I take this time each year to visit friends and family scattered about.  Before leaving I want to share one of my very favorite poems.  It is a wonderful poem by Robert Frost, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.  It has a particular significance to me.  When I was a young man a good many decades ago I lived on an old farm in the hills of southeastern Ohio.  I had an aged Quarter Horse named Lady who had lost her zest for speed and spunkiness some years earlier.  She was nonetheless steady and dependable.

There was a deep woods between my barn and a small village called Lore City. It was 2 miles on an old abandoned road that wove through the woods.  My custom on Sundays was to ride Lady to a small café.  It was run by two sisters in their 70s.  The café even had an old metal tie-up post out front.  One of the sisters was a bit grumpy and if you tried to change your order, even before she left your table, you were likely to get a slap on the back of your hand.  Her idiosyncrasies aside, she made the absolute best Swiss steak and mashed potatoes ever shoveled into a human mouth.  And this does not even take into account the wondrous variety of homemade pies proudly displayed in one of those old pie safes situated on the counter. We’re talking fruit pies as well as the cream styles mind you.  So a slight slap on the hand was a small price to pay for the sumptuous fare that awaited me.

Yes, my sweet memories are in part based on the food.  In addition, also because I made this weekly pilgrimage on Lady every month of the year. And I still fondly recall many rides through those quiet winter woods in the snow as Lady made her sure-footed way back to the warmth of her stall.

Stay warm, hike often and every time the mood strikes you !
Ken Springer

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy EveningStopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

By Robert Frost