Campground upgrades, bridge replacements, and repairs and improvements needed to ready an 80-foot fire tower for public use as a rental property will get underway during the current fiscal year in the Monongahela National Forest.
Funding for the upcoming infrastructure projects is made possible by last year’s passage of the Great American Outdoors Act. The act provides $1.9 billion annually for each of the next five years to address a deferred maintenance issues in national forests, parks and wildlife refuges, along with public land administered by the Bureau of Land Management.
It also restores full funding to the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which provides an additional $900 million annually in revenue from offshore gas and oil leases to maintain public land across the nation.
Nine infrastructure projects in the Monongahela to receive funding from the act include the rehabilitation of the campground at Lake Sherwood Recreation Area in northeast Greenbrier County.
Several of Lake Sherwood campground’s wooden bathhouse buildings will be replaced with new, accessible concrete structures, while old vault toilets will be demolished, utility lines repaired and all sewer infrastructure will be replaced.
The campground’s amphitheater will be rebuilt and new traffic signs will be installed.
A pair of virtual public meetings will be held April 13 and April 15, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. each day, to discuss this year’s improvements and get public feedback about what projects should take place at Lake Sherwood during the next fiscal year. Meeting handouts will be posted on the forest’s public website, www.fs.usda.gov/mnf, by April 5. The website also will post instructions on how to join the meetings.
The Lake Sherwood Recreation Area includes a 156-acre lake, providing opportunities for fishing, swimming and boating. With 104 individual campsites and 10 more for groups, it has the largest campground in the Monongahela.
Other projects to get underway this year are the replacement of bridges crossing the Williams River, to improve access to the Tea Creek Campground west of Marlinton, and across the Cranberry River on Forest Road 76, better known as Cranberry Backcountry Road, near the Tumbling Rock Shelter.
A permanent bridge crossing the North Fork of Deer Creek will be built along Forest Road 1681, to improve access to Elleber Sods and its grazing allotment, and a bridge crossing the Greenbrier River’s West Fork, to improve access to the West Fork Rail Trail from Forest Road 44 at Wildell. Also to be replaced is the bridge crossing Red Creek, near the entrance to the Dolly Sods Wilderness near Laneville.
Four undersized and deteriorating culverts along Williams River Road and Forest Roads 296 and 298 at Laurel Run will be replaced to improve trout habitat.
Finally, the Red Oak Fire Tower, perched atop 3,704-foot Red Oak Ridge, will receive additional repairs, including a new lightning grounding system, to make it suitable for future public use as a room with a 360-degree view of the headwaters of the Williams and Cranberry rivers.
Previous work done to the tower earned a heritage tourism award from the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia.
The fire tower was built in 1964 to replace an earlier version built on the same site in 1934 by the Civilian Conservation Corps.