The Greenbrier Valley is the most vulnerable ecosystem in West Virginia. The limestone, shale barrens, and caves in and around the Valley are the environment on which many rare native species live. However, as a result of inexpedient logging, mining and development, the ecosystems are under great danger. If the state cannot come up with effective actions, the precious natural ecosystem here will be lost.
West Virginia is famous for some of the most incredible mountain landscape in the US. But it is also persecuted by the hillbilly fame. While driving on a remote road, you may be attracted by the mirable Appalachian sight but soon find a discordant cottage with a shabby van in the yard and a huge aerial on the rooftop.
On the earth’s surface are some of the Nation’s rarest ecosystems. Such as the shale barrens, a mountainside wasteland with rocks and few trees, but home to a series of sun-loving endemic flora, which is more like the desert plants in West America. The shale barrens are much treasured by geologists and botanists, but abandoned by the local Virginians. Roads and utility lines have encroached on the surface.
In the Greenbrier State Forest you can find the Kate’s Mountain, where you can see many splendid shale barrens near the 3.4km high Rocky Ridge Trail. You can hike or drive there and remember to appreciate the everywhere rare wildflowers and the Kate’s Mountain clover.
The underground world here is a same story. Under the surface of the Appalachian mountains are about 500 limestone caves, which are refuges for many vulnerable animals and plants in the southeastern Virginia. There are rare bats, spiders, crayfish, salamanders and many other species alike. However, the caves are little protected. The caves are ruined because of building and highway construction. Cave-ins are often, the polluted groundwater inflows and the cave entrances are blocked off with trash. Fortunately, enthusiastic cavers and spelunkers have done many things to save the caves, but the precious habitat is still reducing.
The two major caves for tourism are Lost World Caverns in Lewisburg, and Organ Cave in Ronceverte. Both of them are pretty places for you to experience cave trips and to investigate the cave ecosystem. If you are more ambitious, you can go to the ACE Adventures to arrange a specific little-known cave adventure.
The Greenbrier Valley is a great place for mountain biking or hiking. Interpretive signs are set up for you to appreciate the natural features beside the way. And the state government has made much effort to restore the natural ecosystem.