Conservation Groups Disappointed in Thrasher Response to State Park Logging Bill

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:

george.ambler@wvhouse.gov,bill.anderson@wvhouse.gov,martin.atkinson@wvhouse.gov,scott.brewer@wvhouse.gov,moore.capito@wvhouse.gov,roy.cooper@wvhouse.gov,jeff.eldridge@wvhouse.gov,allen.evans@wvhouse.gov,michael.folk@wvhouse.gov,bill.hamilton@wvhouse.gov,roger.hanshaw@wvhouse.gov,jason.harshbarger@wvhouse.gov,ken.hicks@wvhouse.gov,shirley.love@wvhouse.gov,chad.lovejoy@wvhouse.gov,dana.lynch@wvhouse.gov,riley.moore@wvhouse.gov,john@overington.com,ralph.rodighiero@wvhouse.gov,roger.romine@wvhouse.gov,isaac.sponaugle@wvhouse.gov,joe.statler@wvhouse.gov,amy.summers@wvhouse.gov,robert.thompson@wvhouse.gov,danny.wagner@wvhouse.gov

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

George Ambler
Vice-Chair Natural Resources
R 42 Room 203E 340-3129 george.ambler@wvhouse.gov
William Anderson R 8 Room 200E-C 340-3168 bill.anderson@wvhouse.gov
Martin Atkinson III R 11 Room 208E 340-3185 martin.atkinson@wvhouse.gov
Scott Brewer D 13 Room 231E 340-3146 scott.brewer@wvhouse.gov
Moore Capito R 35 Room 220E 340-3340 moore.capito@wvhouse.gov
Roy Cooper R 28 Room 203E 340-3119 roy.cooper@wvhouse.gov
Jeff Eldridge D 22 Room 230E 340-3113 jeff.eldridge@wvhouse.gov
Allen V. Evans
Chair Agriculture
R 54 Room 216E 340-3399 allen.evans@wvhouse.gov
Michael Folk R 63 Room 229E 340-3350 michael.folk@wvhouse.gov
Bill Hamilton
Chair Natural Resources
R 45 Room 216E 340-3167 bill.hamilton@wvhouse.gov
Roger Hanshaw R 33 Room 408M 340-3252 roger.hanshaw@wvhouse.gov
Jason Harshbarger R 7 Room 225E 340-3195 jason.harshbarger@wvhouse.gov
Kenneth Hicks
Minority Vice-Chair Natural Resources
D 19 Room 150R 340-3155 ken.hicks@wvhouse.gov
Shirley Love D 32 Room 233E 340-3337 shirley.love@wvhouse.gov
Chad Lovejoy D 17 Room 151R 340-3280 chad.lovejoy@wvhouse.gov
Dana Lynch D 44 Room 6R 340-3916 dana.lynch@wvhouse.gov
Riley Moore R 67 Room 225E 340-3248 riley.moore@wvhouse.gov
John Overington R 62 Room 242M 340-3148 john@overington.com
Ralph Rodighiero
Minority Chair Natural Resources
D 24 Room 2R 340-3297 ralph.rodighiero@wvhouse.gov
William R. Romine
Vice-Chair Agriculture
R 6 Room 210E 340-3226 roger.romine@wvhouse.gov
Isaac Sponaugle
Minority Chair Agriculture
D 55 Room 258M 340-3154 isaac.sponaugle@wvhouse.gov
Joe Statler R 51 Room 442M 340-3900 joe.statler@wvhouse.gov
Amy Summers R 49 Room 215E-A 340-3139 amy.summers@wvhouse.gov
Robert Thompson
Minority Vice-Chair Agriculture
D 19 Room 150R 340-3355 robert.thompson@wvhouse.gov
Danny Wagner R 47 Room 226E 340-3398 danny.wagner@wvhouse.gov

 

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