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NCQC discusses logging ordinance

By Staff, 08/12/20 9:35 AM

PRESCOTT – A logging ordinance was tabled so changes could be made before being voted on by the Nevada County Quorum Court.

This decision occurred at the court’s August meeting Tuesday. The main sticking point was a $5 processing fee for a logging permit. Ben Hale, assistant deputy prosecutor for the Eighth Judicial District North, said the initial draft of the ordinance was based on the discussion the court had during its July meeting. He pointed out the biggest issue between this ordinance and the existing one was enforcement.

Basically, he told the court, the major difference between the two is this one allows for better communication with the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office, which will be notified when permits are issued by the Nevada County Clerk’s Office. Logging companies can obtain one permit to work on a tract of land and give copies to each driver. Those violating the ordinance can be fined up to $500 or get a six-month jail sentence. Hale said he could come up with a different penalty if the court wanted, but the idea isn’t to punish logging companies, only to get them to follow the county’s laws. When asked about those who bootleg timber, Hale said that would probably be under a different statute.

“This is to create the opportunity to make people take care of the roads,” he said, adding most timber companies comply with the laws. “The idea is to catch thoseĀ  bypassing the permit. We want the roads restored to the condition they were in when they started.”

Those who fail to repair the roads after cutting and hauling can have their permits revoked and denied permits in the future. Each permit, Hale said, is for 90-days, but this can be changed. “I tried to make this as workable as possible,” he said. “Permits are tied to tracts of land being worked on and the permit applicant is responsible for repairing the road. This isn’t perfect, but it’s a step in the right direction.”

The ordinance doesn’t talk about logging, but is more about transporting logs and equipment over county roads.

Article III of the ordinance states: “No person shall use any portion of a county road to transport harvested timber or any equipment used to harvest timber without possessing a valid county road logging permit for the corresponding portion of that county road.”

Article IV states: “Using any portion of a county road to transport harvested timber or equipment used to harvest timber without possessing a valid county road logging permit is an unclassified misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $500 and imprisonment for not over six months as set forth in Ark. Code 27-67-103.

The ordinance gives the procedure for obtaining a permit, which is to file an application with the County Clerk. A copy of the applicant’s driver’s license will be made, and the applicant must provide their name, legal address and telephone number, or the name and legal address of the business entity the permit is being applied for. It also has to have a legal description of the address timber will be harvested from; the names of any agents or subcontractors transporting harvested timber or equipment to and from said tract; the make, model and license numbers of any vehicles to be used during the cutting operation; and clear identification of the route of county roads to be used.

The Nevada County Judge will have two days to approve or deny the application. All approved permits will be on file in the clerk’s office, with copies given to the applicant for everyone involved in the job. Copies will also be sent to the NCSO. Lost or misplaced copies will be replaced by the county at no cost to the permittee.

If a contractor or those working on the logging job fail to comply with the route described on the permit, fail to repair damage done to county roads to their condition prior to the issuance of the permit or simply fail to get a permit, the judge shall attempt to provide verbal and written notice to the number on file with the permittee with a statement of the judge’s concerns. The notice will have the date and time for a hearing that shall be no less than 10 or more than 20 days from the date of notice. Failure to appear will result in permits being automatically revoked and the person will not be allowed to work in the county for a year, unless the judge orders otherwise.

County Judge Mark Glass said he agrees with most of the ordinance, but wanted to do away with the processing fee. The court agreed to table the issue until its September meeting when corrections will be made to the proposed ordinance.