In the recent Wild and Lucrative blog post, Karly covered the new proposed timber project, which threatens Cooper Rock State Forest and its negative impact on the popular recreation site, forestry research, timber management, and wildlife and watershed protection.
Sadly, this isn’t the first time logging projects have negatively impacted West Virginia’s forests. Timber operations has been a serious problem in West Virginia.
Over the years, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy (WVHC) , a non-profit corporation, has received multiple complaints about witnessing unsightly and environmentally logging by companies in West Virginia.
Why are forests important?
Emily Gallegher posted a blog the WVHC website, The Mountain State is a forest state, too. In her posts, she covers the importance of forests, and it impact on West Virginia recreation.
West Virginia has the third highest percentage of forestry in the United State. Twelve million acres are forested. Roughly, 5,998 million trees cover The Mountain State.
Randy Dye, director and state forester with the West Virginia Division of Forestry, said “each forest in the state helps provide for residents in the state, whether it be with jobs, resources, recreation or a nice view.”
“Forests provide the highest quality of water,” he said. “And they’re the scenic beauty of the state.”
Background of forestry in West Virginia
In 2001, The West Virginia Highlands Conservancy published The Timber Reform Research Project as means to seek answers to our states logging problems. As you’ll see below, the non-profit corporation began its report by providing our state’s forestry background.
The Big Problem
WVHC detected that “a big problem currently exists with unlicensed logger operations and offenders.” The Timber Bill Research Project noted that one quarter of all logging operations are not meeting standards set by the state. Also, Division of Forestry records tracking enforcement of the Logging Sediment Control Act have not been uniform from field office to field office. Therefore, it can’t be determined what is being logged, who is doing the logging, and what companies are or are not following best management practices. Further, when a logger gets suspended in one district, he/she can still be actively logging in another.
What needs to be done?
A timber bill is urgently needed. WVHC stated that we need to work on a legislation that:
- The Logging Sediment Control Act enforcement needs to be improved and enable more power to suspend logging company licenses and logger licenses. Increased fines need to be put in current regulations.
- The Division’s database needs to be updated and include links to all district offices.
- Logging operation needs to be inspected at least twice to decrease the high violation rate.
- Increase the Division of Forestry’s funding and staffing.