Conservationists say it has been a long time coming.

The West Virginia Department of Natural Resources is looking at new rules to protect the state's forests.

While Gov. Joe Manchin has proposed to cut the clean water protection of 300 mountain streams in half, caving into coal interests, the proposal for woodland protection is a positive step.

Oil and gas drilling operations in West Virginia's state forests would have to reduce erosion and protect wildlife and recreational activities under the proposed rules.

The Kanawha State Forest Coalition says the rules would require drillers to meet with state forest personnel before applying for drilling permits from the Department of Environmental Protection.

Drillers also would have to change the locations of well sites and access roads if rare or endangered species are found there, or to accommodate recreational activities.

Drillers would be required to build roads on grades gentle enough to prevent erosion. More water bars and culverts also would be required.

State forest personnel would be allowed to order the suspension of drilling operations during inclement weather.

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