The Official Website of the State of West Virginia

Strong as steel: Manufacturing lumber in the Mountain State with Joe McNeel


For approximately four decades, the West Virginia Hardwoods Center at West Virginia University has focused on one of the state’s abundant natural resources. Dr. Joe McNeel, director of the Appalachian Hardwoods Center and professor of Wood Science and Technology, leverages his experience and dedication to the state’s hardwoods to help create and promote new products. Out of these efforts has grown a sustainable, innovative wood product as strong as steel and concrete and uses technology to advance the growing industry.

“We have about 80 percent of the state that is forest, so we have a tremendous resource here. A lot of people like to use the growth to harvest ration to estimate how much drain is occurring in a forest. Within the state, almost every species is well over a 2:1 growth to harvest ration. This indicates we are growing twice as much wood as we’re currently harvesting. So we have a resource that is not only sustainable but is available to harvest in great quantities without really affecting the sustainability of that forest,” McNeel said.

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