“Scenic trails. Tranquil bodies of water. Diverse flora and fauna. In Almost Heaven one-of-a-kind experiences await for everyone. Grab your gear and get ready to explore the state’s awe-inspiring landscapes and experience its unique mountain adventures.”
Explore WV DNR’s “Helpful Resources” Website – Includes Wildlife Watching; Plant Identification; Boating and Water Recreation (clicking on the numbered title opens a webpage with more information)
- Observing Wildlife – Observing wildlife in their habitat is one of the best ways to enjoy the outdoors and learn about West Virginia’s abundant natural resources. And the good thing about West Virginia is that you don’t have to go far to see wildlife. So, if you want to teach your kids about wildlife or get in touch with nature, plan a wildlife observing adventure. Here are some basics to keep in mind.
- Landscaping for Wildlife – Whether you live on a farm, a quarter-acre suburban lot or in a city apartment, you can provide habitat for wildlife. In fact, all you need to create wildlife habitat is food, water, shelter and space. This task can be as simple as setting up feeders, birdbaths and nest boxes or as complex as restoring a native meadow. So, if you’re looking for something to do with your kids to teach them about native animals or a summer project to improve your property and welcome more of nature into your life, here are a few things ways you can landscape for wildlife on your property.
- Mammals – Seventy-four species of mammals are currently found in the Mountain State. Some are easily recognizable, such as the white-tailed deer or black bear (West Virginia’s official state animal), but others are more secretive such as the northern flying squirrel, only showing themselves at night or restricting their presence to remote and unique habitats.
- Identifying Wildlife – Whether you’re a wildlife enthusiast or an angler or hunter, knowing how to spot animals in the wild is a valuable skill and enjoyable activity. With more than 80 species of amphibians and reptiles, 70 species of mammals, 178 species of fish and nearly 300 species of birds, West Virginia is a great place to hone your wildlife identification skills. Here’s a few tips to help you get started.
- Snakes Alive! – Snakes are one of the most misunderstood animals in West Virginia. Did you know these colorful and fascinating reptiles play an important role in healthy ecosystems? If not for snakes, our forests and your yard would probably be overrun with rodents and pests. So, take a few minutes to get to know West Virginia’s snakes. Here are a few facts you need to know.The 23 species of snakes found in West Virginia range in size from about 10 inches to more than six feet in length. Snakes are complex and highly adapted animals that inhabit a variety of habitats. Color, size, shape, preferred habitat and geographical range are summarized below.
- Feeding Wildlife – One of the best ways to protect West Virginia’s abundant wildlife is keeping it wild. That means we all need to respect habitats, keep a safe distance from wildlife and resist the urge to feed wild animals. As you enjoy the outdoors and cross paths with wildlife, here are a few things regarding feeding wildlife that will help protect you and the animal.
- Photography – From majestic elk to tiny salamanders and everything in between, West Virginia’s rugged mountains, lush forests and beautiful lakes are teeming with wildlife. And one of the best ways to enjoy West Virginia’s abundant wildlife is by photographing them in their habitat. So, grab your camera and plan an outdoor adventure to a West Virginia state park or forest or wildlife management area. Here are a few tips that will help you take better nature and wildlife photos.
- Birds of West Virginia – West Virginia is a great state to live and visit, if you love watching birds and tracking them as they come and go each spring. With its mountains, valleys and everything in between, West Virginia provides many different habitats for birds and plenty of places for you to observe our avian friends. So, grab your binoculars and field guide. Here are a few things about West Virginia’s birds to help you enjoy bird watching.
- West Virginia Wildlife Center – The West Virginia State Wildlife Center is a modern zoological facility displaying native and introduced state wildlife. Operated by the Wildlife Resources Section of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, the Wildlife Center is dedicated to presenting visitors a realistic and factual understanding of our state’s wildlife. Woodland wildlife can be viewed along a wheelchair-accessible interpretative trail traveling 1.25 mile through a mature hardwood forest.
- Snakes of West Virginia – Getting to know wildlife in West Virginia is another reason to appreciate the beauty the landscape provides. Among some of these animals are snakes and other reptiles. These members of the reptile class play a vital role in the balance of nature. Their colorful and complex life histories are fascinating and give little justification for the apprehension felt by so many.
- Native Plant Species – In Almost Heaven, native plants make up our lush forests, line our glorious Appalachian Mountains and adorn our backyard gardens. West Virginia is home to an array of native plants. In fact, out of our 2,500 wild plants, around 1,800 are native to the state, according to the West Virginia Native Plant Society. These plants were here long before any European settlement, and to ensure that they stay here even longer, we must perpetuate our native species by continuing to plant them. Here are a few that you could consider planting.
- Poison Ivy & Plants to Avoid – With our lush forests, expansive mountains, and abundant plant life, West Virginia proves to be the perfect place to get in touch with nature. Miles upon miles of trails weave through the state, providing nature-lovers the opportunity to explore the great outdoors. While navigating the state’s vast wilderness, it’s imperative to possess some knowledge about our plant life. Though these plants have an unmatched beauty, sometimes it’s better to appreciate our flora from afar.
- Exotic & Invasive Species – Exotic species are species of plants and animals that did not occur naturally in the U.S. prior to colonization by Europeans in the 1600s. Since that time, thousands of species have been brought to this country for a variety of purposes including food, pets, and nursery stock and some have been introduced without an invitation. Most of these species of plants and animals do not create any problems for our native species. Unfortunately, some of these species can live outside of cultivation or captivity and compete with our native species for space. The species that can invade our natural areas and displace native species are called invasive species. In addition, the movement of native species from one location to another can be problematic. Species that were once isolated now must compete with newcomers and sometimes they lose the battle.
BOATING & WATER RECREATION
- Rivers – With thousands of miles of streams to cast your line in, West Virginia is a great place for anglers who enjoy nature’s beauty and the thrill of feeling a tug at the end of their line. Whether you enjoy taking a boat out on the river for a day of bass fishing or prefer fly fishing for native trout in a coldwater stream, here are a few things to help you get the most out West Virginia’s incredible fishing streams and rivers.
- Reservoirs/Rivers and Streams – West Virginia is known as the Mountain State, and the unique topography gives the state an abundance of rivers and streams. With waters ranging from small headwater brook trout streams to raging whitewater rivers to large, navigable rivers, West Virginia offers many opportunities for fishing and boating. . .”
- Boat Ramps – For anglers, waterfowl hunters and those who enjoy boating, access to West Virginia’s streams, rivers and lakes is vital to their enjoyment of the outdoors. The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources maintains many public access sites, from large concrete ramps with courtesy docks to gravel bars for launching a kayak. And the WVDNR is adding and improving sites every year! Here’s what you need to know about access sites.
- PFDS (Boating) – There are over 2,000 miles of navigable, fishable streams in West Virginia that comprises over 19,000 surface acres of water. Additionally, there are 21 lakes over 100 acres in size that encompass 20,118 acres of fishable and boatable waters. There are 41 small impoundments covering 1,068 acres and 30 ponds covering 204 acres. Most of these waters are also available for public boating. Boating is a fun, relaxing outdoor activity that can be enjoyed with family and friends in a variety of ways. From kayaking and canoeing to motorized water sports, a day of boating creates lasting fun among participants.