By RICK STEELHAMMER
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A bill introduced Monday that would allow commercial logging in West Virginia’s state parks as a way to pay for the park system’s backlogged maintenance work has prompted nine conservation groups to form a coalition opposing the bill’s passage.
Senate Bill 270, sponsored by Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, and Senate Minority Leader Roman Prezioso, D-Marion, and introduced at the request of Gov. Jim Justice, would lift a ban on state park timbering that has been in effect since 1931.
Certain forest land “not generally utilized by the public” in state parks would be designated as eligible for harvesting, pursuant to management provisions, according to the text of the bill. Timber would be sold through competitive bidding, but successful bidders would have to pay at least the appraised value of the timber.
The DNR director may authorize the sale of timber on state park land “only as part of a sound silvicultural management plan” drafted by the DNR director, the superintendent of the state park holding the timber sale and the director of the state Division of Forestry, according to the text of the bill.
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