The big news this week out of the Capitol is trees! Secretary of Commerce Woody Thrasher has outlined a plan to allow logging in state parks. Bills requested by the Governor to codify this plan have been introduced on both sides in the past week: SB 270 and HB 4182. Watch the short titles, folks: while we say logging or timbering, they say “selective harvesting” or “silvicultural management”.
Though timbering is legally practiced in our state forests (excluding Kanawha), our state parks have long been protected. This means that only a very small percentage of forested land in West Virginia is safe from the saw. Our state parks, from Audra to Watoga, are the best bet for visitors from around the world to experience old-growth forests in wild, wonderful West Virginia.
A coalition of conservation groups have come out in strong opposition to these bills, which have been introduced, but have not made their way to a committee agenda yet. These groups include the WV Highlands Conservancy, WV Chapter of the Sierra Club, Friends of Blackwater, WV Rivers Coalition, WV Environmental Council, Kanawha Forest Coalition, West Virginia Scenic Trails Association, Mountain Lakes Preservation Association, and West Virginians for Public Lands. Our campaign to stop this terrible policy has been dubbed SOS Parks! (Save our State Parks)
Word in the halls is that the Governor’s phone has been ringing off the hook with callers voicing their extreme displeasure with the idea of cutting trees in our beloved parks.
It’s worth noting that the differences in language mentioned above gives a peak into the state’s messaging on this bad policy. The justification they are using is that it’s for the health of the forests, but we know it’s about revenue. While we agree that state parks desperately need money for repair and maintenance, we think there are better ways to go about it. The coalition is actively trying to work with the administration to suggest alternate revenue streams. Still, we know one thing: you don’t save parks by cutting down trees!
To tell the Governor what you think, call 304-558-2000 or click here to send a letter!