Chuck Wyrostok, Chair, WVEC Government Affairs Committee
SB 270 was introduced early this legislative session at the request of Governor Justice with head salesman Commerce Secretary Woody Thrasher. Sure-footed Woody could hardly bear to listen to suggestions at meetings with us and our partners. So we opened the spigot to a torrent from outraged West Virginians. Result? 270 died.
Still think citizen pressure doesn’t work? Or that emails, phone calls and visits to the Capitol don’t count? If we stopped them from cutting trees down in our State Parks, we can stop them from perpetrating other environmental evils! Big thanks to all those who took time to weigh in and exercise your rights.
And to add to that, I submit the following from one of our State Senators:
CHARLESTON – Senator Mike Woelfel, D-Cabell, today issued the following statement about Senate Bill 270, which would have authorized the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources implement a timber management program on state park lands:
“It is my belief Senate Bill 270 is as dead as an old chestnut tree. Our state parks were created in 1931 to preserve scenic and aesthetic areas of West Virginia. The Governor’s Bill would have granted legal authority to loggers to ‘manage’ timber in state parks. As we all know, however, these pristine areas have ‘managed’ themselves quite well long before the existence of bulldozers or chain saws. The compelling testimony of former Watoga State Park Administrator Ken Caplinger before the Senate Natural Resources Committee likely extinguished the legislation’s potential for passage.
In fairness, the proponents of Senate Bill 270 were knowledgeable, acting in good faith and clearly well intentioned. They brought long overdue attention that state parks suffer from a protracted lack of adequate funding sources.
In the end, spirited and effective citizen opposition via petition, email, telephone, and personal contact with legislators carried the day.
Liquidation of the forests that make West Virginia’s parks unique would have been a grave mistake. It’s amazing what good can occur when citizens engage and actively participate in the legislative process.”