Tapping on National Forest Lands

When looking to expand the maple industry people often look at the large acreages of forested lands in the public domain. In West Virginia, 16.5 percent of the land is in public ownership, and in Virginia, 17.1 percent. Of that, the largest acreage is managed by the federal National Forest System (NFS). Sugarbush owners adjoining NFS lands might look across the line to tapable maple stands in the national forest. Private citizens or community groups could also look at public lands as a way to get in the business. In this study, we investigated an example of a community group, the Mt. Rogers Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad, that is running a successful maple sugaring operation by tapping trees in the adjoining George Washington-Jefferson National Forest. We examined the sugaring operation and the impacts that the sugaring operation is having on the Whitetop community.

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