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Posted: August 14, 2014 10:00 p.m.

Timber sale to help county coffers

Newton County officials plan to ask for bids on harvesting timber from 200 or so acres near the intersection of Lower River Road and New Mote Road south of Covington.

The bids are to be let Aug. 29. The reason is simple: Timber, particularly hardwood, is worth a lot right now.

“It’s really, really good, really good,” said Mack Barber, the timber consultant hired by the county to manage the sale.

County Commission Chairman Keith Ellis on Wednesday said the county owns numerous tracts, some large, some small, and has mostly allowed them to sit quietly, paying nothing into the county’s coffers. County-owned land is not taxed.

“With hardwood prices at their highest peak ever,” it’s time to put that land to use, Ellis said.

The forests have been harvested before; old growth does not exist around here. Ellis said regulations require huge buffers of up to 200 feet along streams and around 100 feet from nearby homes, so the visual impact should be negligible.

Proceeds from the sales will go into the county’s general fund and pay for various county projects, Ellis said.

“The goal is to sell as much timber at the right price,” he said. “The county has a treasure trove of property. It’s just about trying to come up with additions to our budget without having tax dollars fund (all of) our projects.”

Ellis said some of the tracts the county owns won’t or can’t be harvested for their timber, either because of location or because the forests aren’t right for it; on some tracts, the trees just aren’t old enough.

The largest single tract owned by the county — the land to be inundated by the Bear Creek Reservoir – can’t be harvested yet, either, because of the ongoing permitting process with state and federal environmental agencies.

“Mainly, we just have to go in and see which areas can bring revenue to Newton County” without hurting the environment, he said.

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dct1953: August 15, 2014 12:14 a.m.

Federal Flood Plain laws and Newton County own flood plain ordinance does not allow for clear cutting timber in federal flood plains or floodways. There is NO BUFFER. If the property is within these flood plains as designated on Federal Flood Maps it can't be touched. There is a reason for this. If you cut these trees you endanger property and lives of citizens along these streams. The reason floods are getting worse in Newton (2009 Floods) is because of clear cutting and building in upstream counties as well as Newton- for the almighty dollar with little to no regard to future damage from floods. Hope they looked at flood plain maps before deciding this.

mhill55: August 17, 2014 7:50 a.m.

Why not consider selling the land rather than the trees off of the land? Newton County has had more than its fair share of land damaged by logging & clear cutting for new developments that never happen or never got completed. Just look at the land down and across the street from this property. Leave the tress alone and look at other ways to fund your special projects.

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