The West Virginia Forestry Association is a non-profit organization funded by its membership. Our members include individuals and businesses involved in forest management, timber production, firewood production, harvesting, and wood product manufacturing. Our members are concerned with protecting the environment, as well as enhancing the future of West Virginia’s forests through multiple-use management. Watch below a video introduction to WVFA and the industry that we proudly represent.
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TED HARRIMAN FOREST INDUSTRIES CAMP
The 2016 Camp will be held at Camp Mahonegan July 17 – 23. Campers’ fees are paid by WVFA and other interested parties. For more information visit: www.WVFA.org/events/
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Industry News, Logger Updates, Landowner Announcements & More
“Ideas that keep growing”
2016 WVFA Annual Meeting
Canaan Resort & Conference Center, Davis, WV
July 15 – July 16 :::: Friday & Saturday
Registration available on premises
On June 27, Governor Tomblin was emailed and mailed the following letter about the proposal to layoff 37 WV Division of Forestry employees:
Dear Gov. Tomblin:
We respectfully request that in light of the flood, state of emergency, loss of life and property, and devastation, the Board of Personnel meeting set for tomorrow be postponed, as many of those foresters affected are on the lines helping victims at this time of great need.
We also respectfully urge you to reconsider the dismissal of some 37 professional employees of the Division of Forestry. Those dismissals of roughly one-third of the Division’s workforce portend a crippling effect on the agency, the forest products industry, our forest resources and our citizens. We are aware that this action is occasioned by reductions in the 2017 budget. We are advised that interim funding for these positions could be made available until a time when the Legislature reconvenes to consider supplemental appropriation.
The West Virginia Forestry Association (WVFA) represents forestry professionals employed in both the public and private sectors, forestry educators and researchers, 260,000 family and commercial forest landowners, wood harvesters, manufacturers and 12 million acres of globally significant hardwood forests. Each is, in a measure, dependent upon the DOF to provide professionally qualified services in every county of the state.
There are good reasons for the Executive to take extraordinary steps to avoid this action. Not least of these reasons is compassionate concern for the livelihoods of the affected employees and their families, economic viability, public safety and environmental protection. The WV forest products industry is one of the few that have current potential to add jobs, revenues and to diversify our economy. These reductions, while affecting about one-third of the total workforce of the DOF, represent roughly half of the field personnel. These are professionally trained, educated and experienced foresters and forest technicians. Reductions of this magnitude have the potential to bring timber harvesting to a halt, reduce readiness to combat wildfire and adversely affect forest resources stewardship and management.
It has been rumored that the work of these experienced forestry professionals could be assigned to other state employees. West Virginia’s Logging Sediment Control Act which has been nationally lauded for its efficacy and practicality is predicated on being administered by qualified forestry professionals. More than a mere regulatory program, the requirements of the Act for DOF are equally regulatory, advisory and educational. The Code of State Rules requires that no person may use the job title “forester” or “forestry technician” who is not duly licensed as a Registered Forester or Forestry Technician. Such licensing has strict educational and experiential requirements. A water resources inspector participating in the administration of the Act is required to attend a certification program conducted by the DOF and to complete certification requirements. DOF forestry personnel review and approve timber harvesting notifications; they provide on-site advice in the proper application of clean-water rules; and they inspect logging operations for proper completion. In 2015, 8,275 inspections were conducted by DOF forestry personnel and 1,325 professional loggers were trained by these DOF personnel.
Otherwise, field staff reductions mean that homes in rural areas will be less secure from wildfires since volunteer fire departments will not have the expertise of these foresters, do not have the heavy equipment to cut fire lines, do not know the locations of natural firebreaks, and do not maintain lists of persons for additional help or access to property. Proposed reductions in field staff will necessarily limit availability of technical forestry assistance to landowners. The DOF also provides critical information to the state Tax Department, required for administration of the Managed Timberland Tax program. Most of the field forestry personnel to be discharged are cross-functional and serve in more than one capacity. Therefore, each layoff is more significant than a simple headcount would suggest.
WVFA supports the employees of the DOF as vitally important partners. It is widely understood that the Executive and the Legislature have an enormous task in maintaining the essential services of government through equitable budgetary policies. Finally, we do share your vision of a prosperous, forward-looking economy and, therefore, be assured that we are prepared to earnestly enter into a dialog exploring long-term funding of priority Division of Forestry programs.