Commission adopts logging notice ordinance

BY DOUG SANDERS JR., Correspondent

The Pickens County Commission recently adopted a new logging notice system that went into effect this week which will set up guidelines for timber owners and loggers.

The Commission held an extremely brief meeting on March 26, lasting a total of six minutes. First, the Commission made a motion to adopt the ordinance, to take effect April 1, and it was unanimously approved. Then, they voted unanimously to appoint County Engineer Clint Terry to be the license inspector responsible for enforcing the ordinance.

The Alabama Legislature established rules regarding logging in 2012 (in Alabama Code Section 23-1-80.1) so loggers could find “greater consistency in requirements from one county to the next across the state,” according to a letter from Terry. That letter also said the ordinance will also help the county “preserve the condition of our county roads.”

The ordinance will require “all timber owners submit proper notice to the county commission prior to initiating any timber harvesting activities or utilizing any county roads or bridges for delivery of pulpwood, logs, poles, posts, or wood chips to any wood yard or processing plant.”

Timber owners have to give notice of the logging activity for each separate tract of land either in person, fax, e-mail or regular mail and must be fully in compliance before any logging can begin. If a new access point is required for the tract of land, the timber owner must notify the county commission four business days in advance. If an existing access point will be used, notice of two business days in advance is required.

A form must be filled out and has to include a map or legal description of the tract in question; designates whether the access point is existing or new; must be sure that normal drainage features on the public road are maintained; list of what county roads and bridges will be used; estimated acreage of the logging; estimated dates of operation; contact information of the timber owner, contractor and liability insurance carrier of the timber owner and contractor.

Once the form is submitted, the county engineer will review the it and will give the property owner a “proper notice confirmation.” If the form raises concern, the county engineer will issue the property owner a “notice of deficiency” and provide guidance on how to correct any problems. If a contractor or timber owner proceeds with the logging without a proper notice confirmation, they can be penalized. The penalty will consist first of a warning and if the offense is not corrected, a citation will be issued, along with a $500 fine for each day that they are in violation of the ordinance. The county commission could bring a civil action in court against the timber owner or contractor to stop all logging activities. If three violations occur within a 24-month period, the timber owner can be required to post security if any damage has occurred to a county road or bridge as a result of the logging.

The county engineer must respond to each notice within four business days if a new access or two days if using an existing access. The notice confirmation shall be in effect for 12 months, but a six-month extension can be granted by the county engineer, upon written request by the timber owner.

The requirements of this law can be suspended by the Governor of Alabama in the event of a state of emergency.

See complete story in the Pickens County Herald.
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