Fall events!

Mountain Weavers Guild to Demonstrate at Darden Mill

Photo by Jody Burnsworth.

The Mountain Weavers Guild will be demonstrating at the Darden Mill during the Mountain State Forest Festival. The guild has been actively advocating for awareness of and the continuation of their art since the early 1970’s.

During the Forest Festival, the guild will set up their looms and demonstrate their art to Mill visitors on Wednesday September 30th, Thursday October 1st, Friday October 2nd, and Saturday October 3rd. This corresponds with the current AFHA exhibit in the Darden Mill, Homespun and Handmade: Culture in the AFHA Region, which celebrates the traditional ways of life in the Appalachian Forest Heritage Area, and is open through the end of October.

The Weavers Guild will also be demonstrating at the Darden Mill the following Saturday, October 10th, from 10AM-2PM, which is National Spinning and Weaving week. They will also be demonstrating at the Beverly Heritage Center on this day.

Griphoisting: Pulling Down Trees to Save Streams

By Maddy Ball
AFHA AmeriCorps Conservation Team Member

 AmeriCorps member uses griphoist to move tree, while Trout Unlimited crew help push rootwad into place. Photo by Chad Landress. 

While many assume that conservation work revolves solely around saving and planting trees, those who hold conservation jobs know that often this is not the case.  Trees provide innumerable benefits to an ecosystem, dead or alive.    In an ecosystem without human impacts, old mature trees eventually die of natural causes and are replaced by a younger generation of trees.  The dead trees nourish the system providing organic material and nutrients to the soil, a place for wildlife to seek refuge and, if fallen into a stream, can create optimal fish habitat, cover, and a food source for macroinvertebrates. 

Unfortunately, many parts of the Monongahela National Forest are not in this healthy cycle, as the majority of the forest was clear-cut a century ago.  During this time, trees were removed from streams, stream channels were straightened to promote quick transport of timber, and negative impacts to stream channels resulted from erosion and changes in hydrology due to the modified landscape.  After the harvest, streams remained degraded and devoid of wood, but seedling trees grew, and the forest regenerated.  Because of the clear cut, most trees on the Monongahela are in the same age class, creating an abnormally high number of healthy, middle aged trees and an abnormally low number of dead and dying trees.  This causes a deficiency in the benefits dead or decaying trees provide, as fewer are being recruited for streams and wildlife habitat than would be historically. Furthermore, those few trees that do fall near streams do not make it in the stream because of incised stream channels, creating a “bridge” from bank to bank, never touching water.

Large rootwad placed effectively in stream to create scour pool for fish habitat. Photo by Chad Landress. 

In order to restore and rehabilitate stream ecosystems and fish habitat, large woody material is often a key component of stream restoration.  One method to add large woody material to streams is griphoisting.  A griphoist is a hand operated portable hoist that allows the user to pull down and move trees while keeping their root systems intact.  With the help of the griphoist and a pulley, one person can pull down and move (albeit slowly) an intact tree, and place it within a stream to create a desired habitat feature. This method is incredibly useful to reduce the impact when restoring a stream, as heavy machinery can cause compaction and degradation on the site. Each part of the tree, if positioned correctly, has multiple benefits to the stream and floodplain.  Rootwads in high flows can create deep scour pools and cover for fish to seek refuge in.  Tree branches and leaves also provide cover and a food source for macroinvertebrates, which in turn provide food for fish and amphibians.  Tree trunks on banks collect and sort material, narrowing unnaturally over widened stream channel. The added volume of wood in the channel helps build the streambed back out of its incised channel, improving the health of the riparian area.

In order to help restore the Monongahela’s headwater streams to a healthy state one must look to nature, as it often has the simplest answer.  By pulling down trees as naturally as possible, keeping as much of the tree intact, and leaving a very small disturbance at our sites, the Monongahela Watershed Program (with help from AmeriCorps!) tremendously aids the headwater stream restoration process.

A completed large woody material structure created by Trout Unlimited Crew. Photo by Chad Landress. 

Observing the Appalachian Forest Heritage Area

By Josh Chrysler
AFHA AmeriCorps Heritage Team Member

My name is Josh Chrysler, I am a new AmeriCorps member with the Appalachian Forest Heritage Area, positioned at the Appalachian Forest Discovery Center in the Darden Mill. As of this writing, I have lived in Elkins for less than two weeks. Because I’m adjusting to a new environment, and especially because my education is in the ethnographic field of Folklore, my senses have been going crazy trying to soak up every little detail about my new surroundings.


I am still in awe of the raw beauty of the AFHA region. In some ways the physical landscape itself is reminiscent of both of my previous homes. The mountains here bring to mind the mountains of my native northern Colorado, yet also the rolling hills of my previous home in southcentral Kentucky. But it maintains a beauty all its own, an entirely unique physical landscape that the AFHA is committed to helping conserve.


As a folklorist, my eyes and ears are always open when it comes to the traditional culture and folklife of the region. I was intrigued when I first learned of unique regional celebrations such as Fasnacht in Helvetia, and the Mountain State Forest Festival in Elkins. Many traditional arts, such as weaving and white oak basketmaking are still practiced and celebrated in the area. And of course, the old-time music and dance scene is especially vibrant, active, and attractive.

The 18-county Appalachian Forest Heritage Area is exceptional in not only its natural resources and physical beauty but also its cultural uniqueness. I am excited to spend the next year getting to know people, exploring the area, and learning about the natural, historical, and cultural landscapes of the region.

Railroad bridge and reflection by the Darden Mill. Photo by Josh Chrysler. 

Our next concert is Wednesday September 23rd at 7:30pm featuring Little Sparrow at the Darden Mill. For more info, visit the event page on faceook.
It's Festival season! Here are just a small handful of the upcoming festivals over the next few weeks.

West Virginia Roadkill Cook-Off. Marlinton, Sept. 25-26

Leaf Peeper's Festival. Canaan Valley, Sept. 25-27

Mountain State Forest Festival. Elkins, Sept. 26-Oct. 4

Autumn Glory. Oakland, MD, Oct. 7-11

Burgoo Cook-Off. Webster Springs, Oct. 10
Experience the heritage of your area! Sites of the Month spotlights events and locations within the region, based on AFHA's four themes: forestry, history, culture, and nature.
Seneca State Forest, created in 1924 in Pocahontas County, is the oldest State Forest in West Virginia, and at 11, 684 acres, is also the second largest. The Seneca State Forest was established with ensuring timber and wildlife resources for the future in mind, and has since contributed more than 5 million board feet of timber. There has also been a tree nursery at the site since 1928, which has steadily been resupplying the White Pine native to the area.
The Carrollton Covered Bridge in Carrollton, West Virginia was built in 1856. The bridge spans the Buckhannon River in Barbour County. Brothers Emmett J. O’Brien and Daniel O’Brien were the contractors responsible for the bridge, and had also been involved in the construction of the more famous covered bridge in Philippi the year before. By 1962, the bridge had become unfit for safe travel, but was restored due to community efforts, and was eventually listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1981. The Carrollton Covered Bridge bears the burr arch truss, which combines the use of both an arch and a truss system, which allows for greater stability.
The 24th Annual Kirkwood Winery Grape Stompin' Festival will be held in Summersville, West Virginia on September 19-20th. This Nicholas County festival features lineups of different traditional music types and dances, and includes different artists and craftspeople displaying as well. The festival also highlights wagon rides and a hog roast, in addition to both the grape eating and grape stomping competitions.
The Ice Mountain Preserve, in Hampshire County, is protected by The Nature Conservancy. The talus slope, or large pile of boulders, found at this site helps creates a refrigeration effect that allows ice to remain in the area well into the summer when it has melted elsewhere. In the past, residents of the area would visit during the summer to break off chunks of ice to take home. This refrigeration effect also allows for the existence of boreal vegetation, typically found further north, or at much higher elevation, than what is found in this area, and includes such species as Bunchberry and Eastern Hemlock.
Do you have a suggestion for Sites of the Month? Email us at: info@appalachianforest.us and let us know your favorite sites throughout AFHA!
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Our mailing address is:
Appalachian Forest Heritage Area
P.O. Box 1206
Elkins, WV 26241