BRUCETON MILLS, W.Va. – A very big Eco-Bear stands on a rock surveying Coopers Rock State Forest. He was sighted on the forest on Earth Day, April 22, 2013, and will remain in place until nature reduces him to his components of woven twigs, grass, mud, hemlock branches, and natural materials. Last year a “Sleeping Giant” slumbered for nine months before he returned to the earth near the same location.
“The Bear is an eco-sculpture,” said Forest Superintendent Adam McKeown. “‘The Bear’ is an art concept of West Virginia University art sculpture major Ben Gazsi.” The sculpture, unveiled to the public on Earth Day, is located next to the main overlook parking lot of Coopers Rock State Forest in the picnic area. The bear is about 15 feet tall and three to four times the size of a mature black bear, West Virginia’s state animal, according to McKeown.
“The use of hemlock branches is impressive,” McKeown said. “The storms of 2012 left massive amounts of debris in the forest, more than Gazsi could use, but it was useful in the creation of this very cool art.”
Gazsi, who assists the Coopers Rock Foundation in trail maintenance work, contacted the forest superintendent again this year for permission to create the eco-sculpture. The sculpture, just like last year’s sleeping giant, will remain in place until nature returns the bear to the forest floor. Gazsi’s Facebook page, BenGazsiArt, shows images of the initial stages of the bear’s conception and developmental stages.
Coopers Rock State Forest is 13 miles east of Morgantown and eight miles west of Bruceton Mills. Its 12,713 acres are bisected by Interstate 68. Coopers Rock offers hiking and biking trails, rock climbing, camping and picnicking areas for outdoor recreation. For more information about the forest and activities, visit www.cooperrockstateforest.com
Adam McKeown, Supt., Coopers Rock State Forest