(01/27/2002)
By Bob Weaver

Loggers who strive to follow "Best Practices" in the Calhoun, Roane and Wirt region, may be getting a bad name from companies who fail to comply. An investigative study of 31 Calhoun sites by the West Virginia Division of Forestry was done one year ago in February. The report shows a pattern of noncompliance by a minority of loggers.

The forestry division wants the West Virginia Legislature to budget another one million dollars for twenty more inspectors to improve enforcement, while the Sierra Club and Citizens for Responsible Logging believes logging regulations need to be tightened. Enforcement is currently divided among several different agencies.

Frank Slider with the West Virginia Sierra Club says the compliance to best management practices is a miserable failure, while the West Virginia Forestry Association states no new laws are needed. Delegate Bill Stemple says adding more investigators would help resolve the problem.

A review of regional enforcement records indicates the same offenders repeat their bad practices, with few consequences. The forestry records indicate most loggers work at being responsible.

Out of 40 sites visited, six Roane County loggers failed to obtain a license, with three outfits not having a certified logger, with others placing tree tops in streams, skidding logs down county-state roads and not reclaiming their jobs.

In Wirt County, the Division of Forestry report covers 22 sites, showing two loggers not having a timber license, four not reclaiming their sites and two continuing to operate while suspended.

The West Virginia Division of Forestry report was obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, after officials failed to provide the report during the past year.

The year-old report shows Roane County logger Jerry Saunders was in violation at two Calhoun sites. Saunders appears to have suffered few consequences, repeating the same offenses again and again. Saunders repeatedly overloaded his trucks during wet and non-frost conditions from a site on Little Rowels Run near Cremo last year, which began to show wear and tear on newly paved Rowels Run. The Hur Herald looked into the Saunders operation last year, indicating numerous violations. Saunders then told The Herald he would do the right thing.

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Some loggers contend overloading is necessary in order to survive financially, but others have stated that is not the case. "These people just get a little too greedy. You don't have to overload," according to a long-time Calhoun logger, who asked not to be identified.

A secondary road recently upgraded by the West Virginia Department of Highways, connecting Rowels Run and Little Creek, appeared to be destroyed when visited last year. Highway destruction, with no frost law in West Virginia, is repaired at taxpayer expense, although road replacement could take several years.

Saunders was caught skidding logs down a county-state road, operating down in a stream and creating muddy water, piling tops of trees in a stream and continuing work at a site after the operation was suspended by county Forester Joe Taylor.

At another operation, Saunders was caught piling tops in streams and skidding logs down a county-state road.

Little Kanawha Logging was listed with several violations at two sites, while two sites were in compliance. Operations on their Lemuel's Run project had problems with skidding sites, skidding on a county/state road, no sign posted, putting tops in a stream and a job not reclaimed, according to the report.

J & J Timbering was operating without a timber license at two sites.

Calhoun logging operations were listed for Bear Run, Mudfork, Beech, Sears Run, Little Rowels Run, Katy's Run, Lemuel's Run, Three Mile Run, Big Run, Richardson, Big Root, Back Fork, Leading Creek, Sugarcamp, Leafbank, Pine Creek, Little Kanawha River, Walnut, Racoon Run, Spring Run and Perkin's Run.

Roane logger Ron Cumberledge was listed as having problems with skidding logs, muddy water and no signs posted.

B & S Sawmill, Inc. and Nicholas Logging, in Roane County were each operating three sites with no permits, while Nicholas Logging did not have a certified logger on two sites. Martin Timber was not in compliance with job reclamation on three sites and K and D Sawmill was noted for skidding logs down a county-state highway on two sites.

In Wirt County, C. J. Sealy and Ohio Valley Hardwoods did not have a timber license, and Pauline Lawson Enterprises noted for operating while suspended.

Four Wirt operations did not reclaim a job, including Harrison Logging and Pauline Lawson Enterprises, two sites each.

Since the February, 2001 investigation, multiple violations have been reported, but are not part of this article.


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