Pocahontas County Commission Gets Update On County Forest Service Areas
Marlinton, WV – During Tuesday’s Pocahontas County commission meeting, Jack Tribble, United States Forest Service Greenbrier District Ranger and Rondi Fisher, Marlinton District Ranger, provided an update on operations in their respective districts.
Tribble discusses a major project, affecting 85,000 acres in northern Pocahontas County.
“The Upper Greenbrier project is about 85,000 acres,” he said. It has commercial timber harvest. It has non-commercial stand improvement for timber. It has spruce ecosystems prescribed fire, another one in there. Roadwork, recreation improvements, fish and stream habitat improvement and then, non-native invasive plants.”
Commissioner Martin Saffer asked Tribble to define non-commercial timber stand improvement. Tribble explains that non-commercial and low-quality timber are harvested to improve areas for future logging.
“Essentially, we’ll go in and improve the area,” he said. Cull out poor quality timber. Cut out striped maple, things that are poor quality to improve the cherry that’s there, the merchantable timber that’s in there.”
Saffer asked the rangers if timber stand improvement affected the forest’s bio-diversity. Fisher explains that not all non-commercial trees are removed from an area of timber stand improvement.
“When we’re doing this it’s usually crop-tree-relief,” she said. “Which means that we’re identifying a certain number of crop trees for every acre. Usually, it’s about 75 to 100 per acre. We’re relieving those trees and then, anything that’s in-between, we’re still leaving. So, we’re still leaving the striped maples and the beech and birch and poplars and anything that is not necessarily a targeted crop tree. They’re still there in the stand.
Tribble said one appeal had been received regarding the Upper Greenbrier project.
Tribble said the Greenbrier District was working with the State Rail Authority on a special use permit for reopening a rail line between Durbin and Glady. The proposed rail line would be part of a 90-mile loop, proposed by the West Virginia State Tourism Commission in February. The loop would cost an estimated $20 million to complete and allow rail tourists to travel a uniquely scenic route from Elkins to Glady, on to to Durbin and Cass, and through the old logging town of Spruce on the return trip to Elkins. Delegate William Hartman estimated the project would bring an additional 150,000 tourists to Pocahontas and Randolph counties in its first year.
Following disbursement of all remaining contribution funds for fiscal year 2012, Fleming made a motion to obligate $12,000 to High Rocks Academy for fiscal year 2013. Norman Alderman challenged the legality of obligating funds in excess of funds currently available. Fleming withdrew his motion and directed commission clerk Sue Helton to contact High Rocks and determine what commission action was necessary for the academy to obtain matching funds from other sources.
In other business, the commission:
– awarded a mowing contract for Cass properties to Jacob Johnson at a cost of $300 per mowing
– approved an $89,000 contract between the county water task force and contractor Downstream Strategies, funded by a Forets Service Rural Schools grant
– approved a resolution allowing Pocahontas Memorial Hospital to obtain a tax exempt loan rate for needed equipment
– reviewed a letter from Judge Joseph Pomponio to the state Supreme Court, supporting closure of the Durbin Magistrate’s Office
– passed a resolution allowing Huntersville Traditions to spend a $10,000 Governor’s Community Participation grant for the purchase of land for a museum
– and approved an extension of the Appalachian Waters Byways grant for Marlinton Railroad Depot construction.