Bath Supervisors Have Plenty To Say About Draft for GW Forest Plan
Warm Springs, Va – The draft forest plan for the George Washington National Forest is open for comments and the Bath Board of Supervisors has something to say. At Tuesday night’s monthly meeting the board discussed the county’s comments on the draft plan. Bath County has been actively responding to the Forest Service on this draft, beginning in 2009 when the Board of Supervisors passed a resolution opposing additional wilderness areas being created in Bath. In a wilderness area, fire fighting equipment can’t be brought in without permission from the Forest Service, timbering is not allowed and recreational use is limited because vehicles can’t enter and trails can’t be cut.
The draft forest plan excludes some areas in Bath from consideration for wind energy development but allows for consideration of wind development in other areas. Bath County does not support wind energy development in any of the National Forest located in the county. The forest plan also allows more land to be open for timber harvesting, but the amount of harvesting in the plan is not increased above what it is now.
Bath does support the timber industry and wood gathering opportunities being made available for residents. In addressing other parts of the draft plan, Bath is requesting that prescribed burns not be done when bird nesting is underway in the springtime. The county also does not support lateral underground drilling for minerals, old and gas.
The Forest Service is holding a public workshop to discuss the proposed plan and accept comments on Wednesday July 27 at 6:30 at Valley Elementary School. Supervisor Jon Trees encouraged all board members to attend.
Trees said he is especially concerned about fracturing, which is the underground drilling for oil and minerals. He said the county needs to do everything possible to stop it. The Board voted to send to state representatives its current comments about the proposed plan, along with the 2009 resolution and a 2009 letter.
During public comment, Ellen Andrews spoke against the timbering aspect of the forest plan. She said the forest is Bath County’s primary resource. She announced that she will be at the Bath Library on Tuesday July 19, from 5 to 8, where she will have maps on display to show the forest plan’s impact.
Also on Tuesday night, Supervisor Richard Byrd gave an update on the search for a new county administrator. Current administrator Bonnie Johnson plans to retire soon, and Byrd reported that the county has received 21 applications. The entire board was seated and reviewed the applications and was present for the first round of interviews. The board has narrowed it down to three applicants.
Johnson has agreed to stay on until a new administrator can be hired. Byrd said the new administrator should be in place by September first. The interview process will continue in a closed meeting at 12:30 on Friday July 15.