What’s the story on logging in parks? It keeps changing

The Justice Administration keeps changing the story on why they want to log our state parks. Notice the progression. They go from “parks were never meant to be profitable” to  “finest timber anywhere” to “maintenance bond” to “diseased trees” to “wildlife will die a brutal death and … wildfire ravage these areas.”

“People say we’re ‘losing’ a bunch of money in parks,” McDaniel said. “Truth is, parks were never meant to be profitable. When our parks were created, the business model they were created under wasn’t aimed at turning a profit; it was aimed at protecting natural areas and giving the public a chance to use those areas.

“Even so, more than 50 percent of the Parks Section’s revenue comes from money park visitors spend. We’re closer to being self-sufficient than people realize. I’ve run the numbers. We had more than seven million visitors to our parks and lodges in 2016. Seven million. If we could find a way to have each of those seven million people spend just $2.50 more during their visits, it would generate enough money that we wouldn’t have to [ask for legislative appropriations] at all.”

— Dir. McDaniel, 18 Feb 2017, Charleston Gazette

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“We’ve got tens of thousands of acres of forests on state parks that are some of the finest timber anywhere.”

— Sec. Thrasher, 17 Dec 2017, MetroNews

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“The 800 pound gorilla in the room is $50 Million in infrastructure needs we have in the state parks. We want to sell a bond here to pay for some of that and this is one of many sources of revenue to help pay for that bond.

— Dir. McDaniel, 21 Jan 2018, MetroNews

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“They’re overcrowded, the trees are over mature and by selectively harvesting we can remove the diseased and dying trees and at the same time expand the park footprint.”

— Dir. Cook, 24 Jan 2018, MetroNews

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“The facts are we need to do a better job managing these forest lands within our State Parks,” Gov. Justice said. “If we don’t, wildlife species will continue to decline, substantially. The trees won’t bear fruit, the wildlife will die a brutal death or leave to find food in other locations, there will be few birds, and the potential for wildfires to ravage these areas increases dramatically.”

“We are not cutting away any pristine forests,” Gov. Justice said. “For years these lands have been undermanaged and we just can’t continue to operate that way. This is a conservation effort designed to restore and improve the health of our state park lands. Those who are claiming anything else just don’t know what they are talking about. Again, these efforts will substantially increase all wildlife species.”

— Gov Justice, 29 Jan 2018, Press Release

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