At a time when stimulus funds are being granted for forests of more than 100 acres and when timber prices are at a 30 year low, the Lumpkin County Commission has voted to bring in a forester to choose which trees will be cut in the magnificent Blackburn Park.
A person who is trained in managing tree farms will be paid a percentage of income received for timber he designates desirable for harvest. He makes more money if he recommends cutting the most valuable trees. Can you envision a better example of the fox guarding the hen house?
It has been very difficult to tell what is going on with this project. In public, statements are made about getting rid of beetle infested trees, yet in private, admission that those beetle damaged trees have been dead for years. They refer to Blackburn Park trees as timber needing to be managed as though the property is a tree farm; then they show a plan for trails and picnicking.
They sought back-up from County Extension Agent Greg Shepherd who said, “I support managed forestry. This is the proper course for a tract of land and what I would do if this was my property.”
I don’t know anybody who doesn’t support managed forestry. I don’t know many private individuals who could pay property tax on 200 acres without getting some revenue from it? And I don’t find Shepherd’s statement much of a recommendation to cut trees in a county park.
By voting for the Conceptual Plan, commissioners have handed this hot potato to County Manager Stan Kelley. They are well aware of accusations leveled at a former commissioner for scalping the land that was developed as Yahoola Creek Park. Will commissioners escape the wrath of county residents by making Stan Kelley the scapegoat? Or, will county residents remember to hold commissioners accountable for the acts of their employees?