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Don’t pass timber regulation

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Hans Lenger

Iam vIery disturbed by the fact that a new resolution is being introduced to deal with the use of public roads relating to timber harvesting.
It disturbs me to think that a rural county like Lancaster would consider now over-regulating, overburdening and stifling an important industry to South Carolina.
It might not be known that the timber and related industries employ more than 175,000 people in the state with an economic impact of $15 billion. This industry is now the largest employer in South Carolina!
To make it more difficult for any local industry in these days when the federal government is already burdening companies with sometimes ridiculous regulations smacks to me of more social engineering.
Cutting trees is portrayed by the ill-informed as a mortal sin, when, in reality, a well-maintained tree farm is beneficial to all of us in terms of clean water, clean air, healthy wildlife and safety from devastating forest fires.
A book that should be read by everyone on County Council, including Steve Willis, is “Economic Facts and Fallacies” by Thomas Sowell.
Now my main point against the proposed resolution.
It takes 35 years to grow a pine tree (hardwoods take 50-plus years) and an acre of forest land produces about three loads of harvested timber.
So, 120 clear-cut acres produce about 350 truckloads of timber, which would equate to 10 loads per year or less than one load per month.
Residents who live or use the road with an average of three cars per household and only two trips per day per car will use the road at least 180 times per month or 2,160 times per year and, in 35 years 75,600 times per household.
Please keep in mind that the property owner and the logger with his trucks have been paying taxes for 35 years, but only harvested timber once.
If a normal road cannot stand up to this minor truck traffic, the county has not maintained or built the road correctly in the first place.
To single out one economically contributing user is totally unfair and very short-sighted, besides the fact that another inefficient bureaucracy is created that burdens an industry that is only recently starting to export its products competitively, thus helping with our huge trade deficits.
I do not have any forest land in Lancaster County, but I am concerned about the economic impact this simple-looking regulation has on our county and our great state. Let us not look at quick fixes and politically advantageous blames, but what is right and best for all concerned. Do not pass this legislation!

Hans Lengers is a longtime Indian Land resident. He sent this letter to Lancaster County Council after its Jan. 9 discussion regarding drafting an ordinance to require timber operations to get a permit before using county roads to harvest timber.