Fernow Experimental Forest

Over the past 60 years research on the Fernow Experimental Forest has integrated the disciplines of silviculture and hydrology. The goal has been to improve management of central Appalachian forests for many uses, while protecting and sustaining vegetation, water, soils, and wildlife.


Many of the watershed studies begun in the early 1950s continue today, adding to our knowledge of how forest management affects soil erosion, streamflow quantity and quality, microclimate, and soil quality.

Weir at Fernow Experimental Forest


U.S. Forest Service site for the Fernow Exp. Forest...

U.S. Forest Service Research Data Archive (search for Fernow)

 Smart Forests Technology at the Fernow Experimental Forest

The Fernow Experimental Forest is located within the Monongahela National Forest in north-central West Virginia.  Watershed research is conducted on ten headwater watersheds to study the effects of vegetation manipulation, roads, best management practices, and acid deposition on water and soil resources.

Watershed 4 serves as the untreated reference watershed and has been instrumented since 1951 to measure streamflow, precipitation, and air temperature. Stream water chemistry has been analyzed since 1983. Smart forest technology includes real-time collection of streamflow, stream temperature, and electrical conductivity data every 5 minutes at the weir. Meteorological data are collected every 15 minutes at a weather station near the watershed ridge top; measured variables are precipitation, air temperature, solar radiation, and wind speed and direction. Soil climate data are collected hourly at 2 sites in the watershed uplands. Soil measurements include volumetric water content, soil temperature, electrical conductivity, and dielectric permittivity. Two webcams are located on watershed 4 – one at the weir to document streamflow conditions and one at the weather station to document seasonal canopy phenology.

Real-Time Data from Fernow...

Fernow Experimental Forest Weather Station