Bills on our watch

SB 404: Relating generally to sediment control during commercial timber harvesting operations

This bill has been on our radar since its inception. It increases the threshold limit that loggers would need a license to operate. While it does seem like a significant jump, the Division of Forestry is updating policy from 1991 to reflect gross sale value rather than stump value. The rationale is that it presents a clear number to landowners that is easy to understand. It is important to know that these small logging operations would still be subject to best management practice regulations as well as sediment and erosion controls. Other changes include strengthening the notification period and additional training requirements for logging operators.

SB 415 Creating Timber Cotenancy Modernization and Majority Protection Act and Unknown and Unlocatable Timber Interest Owners Act

Some of you may remember the Cotenancy bill for mineral owners in previous years. It seems the West Virginia Forestry Association took note. This bill is very similar to that legislation; requiring 75% of landowners to be consenting and pay the non-consenting parties the highest royalty. The West Virginia Forestry Association said it needs this legislation to prevent the spread of the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), and waste of resources. Senator Bob Beach questioned these motives as transporting wood affected by EAB is prohibited by federal regulations. Additionally, this strips landowners of their rights, and robs them of recreation and peace on their lands.    

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