|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.
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
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
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.