Senate Bill No. 494
(By Senators Beach and Klempa)
[Introduced February 11, 2011; referred to the Committee on Natural Resources; and then to the Committee on the Judiciary.]
A BILL to amend and reenact §19-1A-2 and §19-1A-3 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended; and to amend and reenact §19-1B-3 of said code, all relating to providing additional protections for state forests and other public lands where timbering operations are conducted.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That §19-1A-2 and §19-1A-3 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended and reenacted; and that §19-1B-3 of said code be amended and reenacted, all to read as follows:
ARTICLE 1A. DIVISION OF FORESTRY.
§19-1A-2. Legislative purposes.
The purposes of this article are to provide for promoting West Virginia products; promoting new forest products industries; developing existing forest products industries; promoting coordination of all state forests resources; advising the Governor and Legislature on all aspects of forestry, the management of state forests for conservation, protection and preservation of wildlife, fish, forest species, natural areas, aesthetic and scenic values and to provide developed and undeveloped outdoor recreational opportunities, and hunting and fishing for the citizens of this state and its visitors.
§19-1A-3. Division of Forestry; Division Director; duties, powers, dedication of certain moneys; creation of a special revenue account.
The Division of Forestry heretofore created is hereby continued. And, except as otherwise provided in this article, all powers and duties previously exercised by the Director of Natural Resources under subsection (13), section seven, article one and article three, chapter twenty of this code, except those powers and duties relating solely to wildlife areas as described in section three, article three, chapter twenty of this code, heretofore transferred to the Division of Forestry, are hereby continued in the Division of Forestry, except Kanawha State Forest as hereinafter provided. The Division of Forestry has within its jurisdiction and supervision the state forests, other forests and woodland areas, the protection of forest areas from injury and damage by fire, disease, insects and other pestilences and forces, the management of forest areas for natural resources, conservation and undeveloped recreational activities, administration of the southeastern interstate forest fire protection compact and other compacts and agreements relating to forest management and husbandry, and the administration and enforcement of laws relating to the conservation, development, protection, use and enjoyment of all forest land areas of the state consistent with the provisions of sections one and two of this article: Provided, That the Division of Forestry may not change the designation of any stream classified by the U.S. Geological Survey. All moneys collected from the sale of timber realized through management of the state-owned forests and the sale of seedlings from the tree nurseries shall be paid into the State Treasury and shall be credited to a special account within the Division of Forestry and used exclusively for the purposes of this article and article three, chapter twenty of this code.
When the Division of Forestry is harvesting timber in state forests and other public lands as permitted pursuant to the provisions of this article and subsection (13), section seven, articles one and three, chapter twenty of this code, it shall maintain a minimum "no cut buffer" of three hundred feet adjacent to all trails, campgrounds, public facilities, forest roads, scenic points of interest, playgrounds, riparian zones, known endangered species habitats and historical value areas. All trails which are used for timbering roads or otherwise damaged during the timbering operation must be returned to a prior condition that makes them viable recreation trails for hiking or other prior recreational use as soon as practicable.
The Division of Forestry has jurisdiction to regulate the growing, digging, collecting, gathering, possession and sale of ginseng as provided in section three-a, of this article.
The chief of the division is the Director of the Division of Forestry who shall be appointed and qualified as provided in section five of this article.
The Director of the Division of Forestry shall study means and methods of implementing the provisions of section fifty-three, Article VI of the Constitution of West Virginia, relating to forest lands, and shall prepare and recommend legislation thereon.
The division lines within the state forests between improved recreation areas under the management of the Division of Natural Resources and the demonstration forests under the management of the Division of Forestry, heretofore established by agreement, are hereby continued with the exception of Kanawha State Forest where the entire forest will be managed by and under the jurisdiction of the Division of Natural Resources for multiple uses and the Division of Natural Resources shall continue to provide recreational opportunities, including, but not limited to, mountain-biking trails, hiking trails, horseback-riding trails and hunting, fishing and trapping lands. The forest may not be designated as a state park or state recreation area; however, any sale of timber from Kanawha State Forest shall continue to be prohibited.
In the event of disagreement over the placement of a division line or dual occupancy of a building, the disposition shall be decided by the Legislature's Joint Committee on Government and Finance at a regularly scheduled meeting.
ARTICLE 1B. SEDIMENT CONTROL DURING COMMERCIAL TIMBER HARVESTING OPERATIONS.
(a) "Best management practices" means sediment control measures, structural or nonstructural, used singly or in combination, to reduce soil runoff from land disturbances associated with commercial timber harvesting. When timbering operations are conducted on state forests or public lands pursuant to the Division of Forestry’s authority to harvest timber under the provisions of article one-a of this chapter and subsection (13), section seven, article one and three, chapter twenty of this code, “best management practices” means structural or nonstructural sediment control measures, watershed protection measures and endangered species protection measures to reduce or eliminate disturbances associated with commercial timber harvesting.
(b) "Chief" means the chief of the office of water resources of the Department of Environmental Protection, or his or her designee.
(c) "Director" means the Director of the Division of Forestry of the Department of Commerce, labor and environmental resources, or his or her authorized designee.
(d) "Operator" means any person who conducts timbering operations.
(e) "Timbering operations" means activities directly related to the severing or removal of standing trees from the forest as a raw material for commercial processes or purposes. For the purpose of this article, timbering operations do not include the severing of evergreens grown for and severed for the traditional Christmas holiday season, or the severing of trees incidental to ground-disturbing construction activities, including well sites, access roads and gathering lines for oil and natural gas operations, or the severing of trees for maintaining existing, or during construction of, rights-of-way for public highways or public utilities or any company subject to the jurisdiction of the federal energy regulatory commission unless the trees so severed are being sold or provided as raw material for commercial wood product purposes, or the severing of trees by an individual on the individual's own property for his or her individual use provided that the individual does not have the severing done by a person whose business is the severing or removal of trees.
(f) "Sediment" means solid particulate matter, usually soil or minute rock fragments, moved by wind, rainfall or snowmelt into the streams of the state.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to provide additional protections for state forests and other public lands where timbering operations are conducted.