Responsible timbering makes sense

Improving the health of West Virginia’s State Parks is the objective of Senate Bill SB270 and House Bill HB4082. Gov. Jim Justice appears to be in favor of this legislation.

According to State Park officials, West Virginia’s 81,000 acres of forested land within all of the parks are in need of at least $40 million worth of improvements and repairs. At the present time, there has been no timbering or logging in any of the state parks or forests for more than 80 years, with the exception of Kanawha State Forest. In a situation like this, the forest or woods have just overly matured.

The impassioned ecologists in West Virginia are highly appalled with this idea of logging in our state parks. They are now using all sorts of twisted truths, untruths and “fake news” — in my opinion — in order to frighten the general public into believing this will be another clear-cutting operation.

Friends of Blackwater’s executive director said, “People who came to the parks don’t want to see any logging taking place …” It is very true the West Virginia code prohibits logging in state parks, except to clear land to build something. Therefore, in order to change this, it will require an act of the state legislature.

A diverse forest is a healthy forest and letting forested acreage go for 80-to-100 years with no cutting at all does not always promote good forest health.

I can remember a former State Commissioner of Agriculture in the 1980s make a statement before a large group of people: ” . . . in certain situations, it is a bigger waste not to timber than it is to timber . . .” From the reports I have checked out, several of our state parks are now facing this kind of a dilemma.

There must be thousands of acres of high quality timber in some of our large state parks. It only makes good sense to sell some of this timber and use the money generated from such timber sales exclusively for improvements, maintenance, etc.

Yet many still argue, “let nature take its course.” In our state parks, this kind or type of reasoning is absolutely senseless. It almost reminds me of the small group of people who want to abolish all sport hunting nationwide. This is their idea of what conservation should be. They just don’t seem to realize that timber is a renewable natural resource.

I have to be in support of this legislation from the standpoint of making our state parks more sell-sufficient. If the timbering is done in a responsible manner and the money goes in the proper direction, this has to be an idea worth giving serious consideration.

At the same time, most West Virginians know this state is infamous for corruption, fraud and graft in government. n my lifetime, we have sent two West Virginia governors to the hoosegow, along with several other high-ranking state employees and public servants for such offenses. It will have to be the people at large and working together for this idea to yield the expected results.

Controlled and responsible logging in the state parks for improvements and needed repairs is a workable idea. It was a few years ago when the family went to one of the state parks in Webster County for an all-day outing. I quickly noticed that the picnicking areas were well-used. The wooden tables were badly decaying, and the nearby grills were in need of repair. Money obtained from selling some of the quality timber within this large state park could be used to correct this type of situation.

Responsible timbering in our state parks means jobs, money and sense. It also means better promoting of tourism and better recreational facilities in the long run.

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