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The Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge (CVNWR), in Tucker County, West Virginia, is the 500th National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) to be established (August 11, 1994) in the USA. The Refuge preserves a moist valley with unique wetlands and uplands at a relatively high elevation in the Allegheny Mountains. It is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).



Advocacy for the establishment of a NWR in Canaan Valley began as early as 1961. In the 1970s, environmental and citizens groups battled with Allegheny Power Systems (APS) — which had owned more than 13,000 acres (53 km2) of Canaan Valley since 1923 — over construction of a long-anticipated hydroelectric facility that would have flooded about a quarter of the Valley. In 1977, the Federal Power Commission issued a license to APS for construction of a pumped storage hydroelectric project, formally known as the Davis Power Project (DPP). However, the following year the DPP was denied a Clean Water Act (CWA) permit by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps' decision cited adverse impacts upon the Valley's wetlands, a relatively new concept at the time[1].

In 1979, the USFWS administratively approved establishment of a NWR in Canaan Valley. APS appealed the Corps' decision all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which in 1988 declined to hear the case, thus clearing the way for creation of the Refuge. About 86 acres (350,000 m2) were purchased in the Valley to establish the Refuge in 1994.[2 ] Another 12,000 acres (48 km²) were purchased from APS in 2002. With other additions, the Refuge now encompasses some 16,085 acres (65 km2) of a total authorized size of 25,459 acres (103 km2).[3][2 ] This represents about 60% of the Valley's 25,000 acres (100 km2).


The combination of wet soils, forests, shrub lands and open lands throughout the Refuge allows a diversity of wildlife habitats. White-tailed deer, raccoon, geese and squirrel are readily observable; mink, bobcat, black bear and barred owls are infrequently spotted. Beavers manipulate water levels by dam-building. Prominent game birds include woodcock, wild turkey and ruffed grouse. The area is also an important habitat for many decreasing species of North American birds, including the bobolink, clay-colored sparrow, Henslow's sparrow, northern saw-whet owl, and the cerulean warbler. Brook trout, a native species, have been joined by introduced species of trout and bass.

Recreation and access

Facilitated refuge activities include wildlife-dependent recreation such as wildlife observation and photography, hunting, fishing, hiking, environmental education, and nature programs.

The Refuge maintains 31 miles (50 km) of designated trails, including:

  • 31 miles (50 km) for pedestrian use
  • 23 miles (37 km) for bicycle use
  • 22 miles (35 km) for horseback use

The Refuge also maintains 7 miles (11 km) of roads for licenced vehicles to provide public access.




  1. ^ Michael, Edwin Daryl (2002), A Valley Called Canaan: 1885-2002, Parsons, West Virginia: McClain Printing Company, pp 220-222.
  2. ^ a b Steelhammer, Rick (1999-02-21). "Land of promise: Wildlife refuge putting a protective embrace around Canaan habitat". Sunday Gazette-Mail (Charleston Gazette): p. 1C.  
  3. ^ Steelhammer, Rick (2009-01-28). "Canaan Valley Refuge adds 120-acre tract". Charleston Gazette. Archived from the original on 2009-01-28. Retrieved 2009-01-28.  

Other sources

  • Freshwater Institute and West Virginia Audubon Council (n.d. [but 1980s]), The Canaan Valley: A National Treasure, 12 minute educational film. (This film was produced to promote the Refuge prior to its establishment and is still shown in modified form.)

See also

External links

Coordinates: 39°02′43″N 79°26′47″W / 39.04528°N 79.44639°W / 39.04528; -79.44639


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