Located Twelve miles east of Parkersburg on either side of U.S. Route 50 in Wood and Ritchie counties, the 967-acre Sand Hill Wildlife Management Area (WMA) lies at the heart of this IBA. This area is owned by CNG Transmission Corporation but leased by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (WVDNR). THe WVDNR Wildlife Resources Section manages the area for hunting. The northern portion of the area (267 acres) has a significant amount of acreage in a safety zone around an underground sandstone mine. The southern portion includes Mountwood Park. The area is characterized by hilly topogropahy and is forested. The forest is interspersed by haul roads and landings from recent timbering activity and oil and gas development.

Ornithological Summary

The forested areas of the IBA hosts species of birds that require intact forest interiors for successful breeding. The large contiguous forests provide suitable habitat for interior forest breeding species such as Broad-winged Hawk, Hairy Woodpecker, Eastern Wood Pewee, Great-crested Flycatcher, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Worm-eating Warbler, Yellow-throated Vireo, Ovenbird, Wood Thrush, and Scarlet Tanager.

During southbound (Autumn) and northbound (Spring) migration, Neotropical migrants pass through the area in profusion.

During field work conducted for the Cerulean Warbler Atlas Project, 16 individual birds were counted at this site, the 13th highest number among a list of 23 of the most important areas for breeding Cerulean Warblers in West Virginia (Rosenberg, 2000).

A suite of at-risk Neotropical migrants pass through the area during northbound and southbound migrations.

Conservation Issues

The biggest threat to the bird communities in this area include disturbance from gas pipeline expansion and logging related to recent timber harvest/management.

The eastern forests are under constant assault from forest insect pests and pathogens including Gypsy Moth, Emerald Ash Borer, Sudden Oak Death, Asian Longhorn Beetle, Pear Thrips, Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, Armillaria Root Rot, Nectria fungus, and a host of other biotic and abiotic stress.

Non-native invasive plant species that threaten the integrity of the site's native plant communities include Tree of Heaven, Japanese Stilt grass, Japanese Knotweed and Mile-a-Minute Vine.

The forests of the Appalachian region, being downwind of Midwestern fossil fuel-burning plants, are also susceptible to air pollution.

Ownership

A large portion of this IBA is owned by the WVDNR and managed by the WVDNR Wildlife Resources Section. A significant portion is owned by an energy utility company.

Habitat

The area is characterized by hilly topography consisting of dry to mesic slopes forested predominantly of a Red Oak/White Oak/Hickory association. Richer, mesic sites support Yellow Poplar/No. Red Oak/White Oak associations and drier sites such as ridge-tops and shallow to bedrock areas support forests composed predominantly of a Chestnut/Black/Scarlet Oak association. Other mixed upland hardwood associations are expected but uncommon.

Land Use

The majority of the IBA is managed for hunting primarily for deer, Ruffed Grouse, rabbit, squirrel, and Wild Turkey. Camping is not permitted within the WMA.