Evergreen Forests

Kent Mason, Photographer / Conservationist

Evergreen forests consist mainly of trees that retain their green foliage all year round. In the higher elevations of the WV Allegheny Mountains red spruce dominated the landscape but almost all of the spruce were cut between 1890 and 1910. Only a few old growth stands remain today although there has been and continues to be a major effort to establish new red spruce forests where possible. Red spruce is a shade tolerant, late successional conifer which grows to 130 feet in height and 24 inches in diameter. They live to 250 to 450 years. Hemlocks are generally found in moist areas such as ravines, deep coves, seeps and moist flats. They flourished in the cool wet climate of the WV Allegheny Mountainns but like the spruce most were cut down. Hemlocks can reach 100 feet in height, have a circumference of up to 21 feet and can live to over 400 years. Two major old growth stands, one of red spruce (Gaudineer) and one of hemlock (Cathedral), remain in WV. This gallery is dominated by images from these old growth stands.