Every piece of wooden WaterRower NOHrD fitness equipment is given life on the lush, verdant planes of the Appalachian Mountains in North America. Through employing responsible forestry practices, we intend to keep it that way.

The Appalachian Mountains have always been important to us.

The original concept for tracing out a hiking path along their spine was dreamed-up almost a century ago by the planner, forester, and idiosyncratic social reformer Benton MacKaye. It was a wildly ambitious plan to reorganise the economic geography of this barren area of eastern United States by fusing leisure, industry, and forest preservation. The plan – so radical that MacKaye himself feared it would be dismissed as Bolshevistic – worked.

Today, the region is a temperate garden. Reminiscent of the low ranges of the Russian Urals, or the Ghats in India, the Appalachian region is a swathe of thick forest and lush, verdant planes spanning 14 states from Georgia to New York.

The trail MacKaye built remains the longest footpath in the world, covering 2,190 miles from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine. Enshrined in hiking folklore, thousands arrive each spring to attempt the distance, forming a fascinating subculture on the way. Walkers are said to leave messages for one another on the trail and enjoy increasing camaraderie as Katahdin looms.

Appalachian Trail Map

A thriving, responsible lumber trade has also taken root, prized for producing some of the world’s finest, responsibly grown and harvested hardwoods. Once milled and kiln-dried, the wood that grows here is lauded for the remarkable strength, durability, and grain characteristics unique to the region.

To the north, and at higher elevations, a dark, humid evergreen forest of spruce and fir cloaks the mountains. While further south, in the lower glades, a more open broadleaf mix predominates, including the Ash, Oak, Cherry and Walnut varieties we have used to make our products for the past 30 years.

The special qualities displayed by the hardwoods grown in this region are due to the Appalachian Mountains’ unique ecology. A fortuitous mix of nutrient-rich soil, ideal year-round temperatures, and perfect moisture levels provide particularly fertile ground for trees to thrive. The idyllic conditions allow wood fibres to grow long and strong, forming rich colours and characterful grain patterns.

Video: Ultimate Guide to Walnut – Woodworkers Source Blog

In keeping with MacKaye’s spirit, protecting this hardwood oasis while supporting the region's burgeoning lumber trade has always been important to WaterRower. The Appalachian hardwood manufacturers trade association (AHMI), of which we ensure all of our suppliers are members, is one of the few such associations with a division devoted to forestry, the advancement of sound forestry practices and wilderness preservation. Members of AHMI have been educating landowners and the public about sound forestry practices and sustainable harvesting since its founding in the 1940s.

In practice, that means for every Appalachian tree felled to make our products, 2.5 more grow in its place. Thanks in part to the modern forest management techniques employed by our responsible suppliers, a billion trees have been added to the region since 2007, with 300,000 acres of Appalachian forest added in the past 25 years. That’s nearly 33 acres a day. To put it another way, more wood then it takes to make a WaterRower grows back every second in the mountains.

We hope the products we make, hewn from these magnificent hardwoods grown in the majestic Appalachian Mountains, reflect their noble heritage. By responsibly harvesting the abundant fruits of the Appalachian forest we have been able to build beautiful fitness equipment that lasts a lifetime, whilst ensuring the future of these special trees for many.

Benton MacKaye would be proud.