Representatives from groups involved in the SOS Parks initiative met with Commerce Secretary Woody Thrasher on Thursday to present a list of credible alternative funding sources that may allow the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources to repair and maintain our state parks without opening them up to commercial logging.
The coalition, which includes the groups Christians for the Mountains, Eight Rivers Council, Friends of Blackwater, Friends of the Cheat, Kanawha Forest Coalition, Mountain Lakes Preservation Alliance, WV Chapter of the Sierra Club, WV Environmental Council, WV Highlands Conservancy, WV Rivers Coalition, WV Wilderness Coalition, WV Scenic Trails Association, and West Virginians for Public Lands, has been actively opposing SB 270 and HB 4182 since the Governor’s had the bills introduced early in the legislative session.
The bills would allow logging in state parks to fund a parks bond. SOS Parks groups presented eight of their nineteen funding ideas to encourage Secretary Thrasher to withdraw the Governor’s logging bill, which has been met with stinging public criticism, including from within the Governor’s own party. On Tuesday, Agriculture Commissioner Kent Leonhardt became the most prominent Republican to speak out against the bill.
The funding ideas include increasing the state park’s share of purchase card rebates and apportioning some state lottery proceeds to park capital projects. Another proposal is a modest surcharge on accommodations in the parks. The parks host 700,000 overnight guests each year. With the proposed bond focused on improving facilities, a small capital improvements surcharge could be added to fees or reservations at state park lodges, cabins, and campgrounds.
Unfortunately, the Secretary rejected discussion of the initiatives out of hand, at least until after the legislative session is over. That means these bad bills are still making their way through the process, although we’ve yet to see either make their way onto a committee agenda.
We’ve seen Division of Forestry director, Barry Cook making his way through the halls to push for passage of this bill, which endangers the very small percentage of public land that is protected from logging. West Virginia’s best chance to see the complex ecosystem that is an old-growth forest is to keep timber trucks out of our state parks.
Rumor has it, the bill may end up running through the House first. On that side, it’s referenced to the House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources and the Committee on Government Organization. We will need lots of calls and emails to the members of the Ag/Natural Resources committee in the next few days.
This list of email addresses for the committee can be copied and pasted into an email address field to send an email to all committee members:
Complete contact info – name, party, district, capital address, phone, and email. The complete mailing address for any committee member is:
Room #, Bldg. 1
1900 Kanawha Blvd. E.
Charleston, WV 25305
Vice-Chair Natural Resources
|William Anderson||R||8||Room 200E-Cfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Martin Atkinson III||R||11||Room 208Eemail@example.com|
|Scott Brewer||D||13||Room 231Efirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Moore Capito||R||35||Room 220Eemail@example.com|
|Roy Cooper||R||28||Room 203Efirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Jeff Eldridge||D||22||Room 230Eemail@example.com|
|Allen V. Evans
|Michael Folk||R||63||Room 229Efirstname.lastname@example.org|
Chair Natural Resources
|Roger Hanshaw||R||33||Room 408Memail@example.com|
|Jason Harshbarger||R||7||Room 225Efirstname.lastname@example.org|
Minority Vice-Chair Natural Resources
|Shirley Love||D||32||Room 233Eemail@example.com|
|Chad Lovejoy||D||17||Room 151Rfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Dana Lynch||D||44||Room 6Remail@example.com|
|Riley Moore||R||67||Room 225Efirstname.lastname@example.org|
|John Overington||R||62||Room 242Memail@example.com|
Minority Chair Natural Resources
|William R. Romine
Minority Chair Agriculture
|Joe Statler||R||51||Room 442Mfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Amy Summers||R||49||Room 215E-Aemail@example.com|
Minority Vice-Chair Agriculture
|Danny Wagner||R||47||Room 226Efirstname.lastname@example.org|