Associated Press Published

Timber Industry Blames Governor For Forestry Layoffs

Logs Logging

An agency that represents logging operators and timber owners is blaming Gov. Early Ray Tomblin for state Division of Forestry layoffs.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports that the West Virginia Forestry Association said Wednesday that Tomblin could have shifted funds from discretionary accounts to prevent the layoffs, which affected 37 employees who battle wildfires and monitor logging sites.

The governor had offered to call off the layoffs earlier this week if the timber industry would support a severance tax that funded the Division of Forestry, but industry officials rejected the offer.

State Commerce Department spokeswoman Chelsea Ruby says taxpayers would pay about $1.8 million for the tax.

President of the forestry association Frank Stewart accused the governor of playing politics.