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Loggers must get permits, repair road damage

Loggers working in Covington County are now required to get a permit from the county engineer’s office.

The new mandate passed Monday will become effective May 1 and was passed in an effort to protect the county’s roads and bridges, commissioners said. There is no fee for the permit.

“We have a lot of weight-restricted bridges in this county and instances in which roadways and ditches were damaged by logging companies,” said assistant county engineer Lynn Ralls. “When there is inclement weather and companies go in, the roads are sometimes left in bad shape, and then the county gets a request to come in a fix those roads at a cost to taxpayers.”

Ralls said the new permitting system will allow for a “checks and balances” system for the timber harvesting operations.

“It gives them guidelines and gives us an idea of their plan of operation,” he said.

Commissioner David Ellis said it will give the county someone to hold “accountable when they tear up the roads.”

Under the new guidelines, anyone associated with the local timber harvesting industry must get a permit for each harvest location.

Permits must be posted on the road’s right-of-way until the job is completed. All roadways used by the timber harvesting operation must be maintained as to allow safe passage at all times and during all weather conditions when the permit holder is actively engaged in area harvesting.

Additionally, no ditches within or next to the road’s right-of-way shall be disturbed, and no equipment shall be parked or located on any county road or right-of-way.

Once the job is completed, the permit holder is required, at its expense, to return roadways to the same condition as they were in before beginning the job.

Penalties for violating these rules could cost company owners up to $500 in fines.