The West Virginia Division of Highways is clearing the canopy that covers much of Cold Run Valley Road in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia.
Some local residents are not at all happy about the project.
“There is a tree cutting crew working on Cold Run Valley Road, systematically cutting away the forest canopy,” said Gary Stewart who lives close by. “They began at the south end, near the junction with 522, and according to one of the crew members, they will be cutting back the canopy all the way to Route 9. By doing this they will destroy one of the most beautiful stretches of road in Morgan County.”
“For many of us, this road offers a daily measure of awe and inspiration as we move to and from our homes to work or to town,” Stewart said. “For visitors it is a lovely introduction to Coolfont Resort and, while gorgeous at any time, it is especially magical in the fall. It is one of the attractions that convinced me to move here 23 years ago and a spectacle that helps attract the tourists who enable our community to thrive.”
Stewart said that “for the past few years people in the community have been working together to enhance the beauty of our surroundings.”
“The rehabilitation of Coolfont is a prime example, along with the streetscape program, hiking and biking trails, train station restoration, to name only a few. The destruction of the canopy along Cold Run Valley Road will be a major setback to this effort.”
“Why is this being done?” he asked. “Is there any way to stop it?”
A spokesperson for S&K Enterprises, the tree removal contractor hired by the state to do the work, told Morgan County USA that the state wanted to cut back the canopy “to let the sunshine in — for safety reasons.”
West Virginia Division of Highways District Five Engineer Lee Thorne confirmed that the state is clearing the canopy on Cold Run Valley Road.
“Approximately two and a half miles of Cold Run Valley Road has been canopy cleared as part of the state’s core maintenance,” Thorne said in an email. “The West Virginia Division of Highways plans to cut around four additional miles of that roadway.”
Thorne said that “canopy clearing — the hand or machine cutting or removal of the overhead tree canopy — promotes visibility, enhances sight distance, improves safety for motorists, and extends the life of the roadway.”
In addition, Thorne said that the crews are clearing dead white ash trees from over the road — “which if not cleared is a safety hazard for motorists.”