Anyone cutting timber in Houston County must first get a permit starting April 1.
The commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday in favor of an ordinance requiring a permit. The permit itself will not cost anything but cutters will have to put up a $5,000 bond to cover the costs of any damage done to roads.
The ordinance is also intended to ensure that taxes are paid on timber. The taxes are supposed to be paid when the timber is cut but County Commission Chairman Tommy Stalnaker said without the permit requirement, the county has no way of knowing when a tract has been cut.
“I think this will allow us to get a better handle on it,” Stalnaker said.
Stalnaker said he considered the taxes and road damage to be equally important aspects of the ordinance. He said he would have preferred to require a higher bond than $5,000 but that is the maximum allowed by state law. The damage includes mud and debris left on roads by trucks but Stalnaker said log trucks have also caused physical damage to paved roads, which can be expensive to repair.
“$5,000 is really miniscule in the overall scheme of damage that could occur,” Stalnaker said. “$5,000 won’t hardly patch a pothole.”
County Attorney Tom Hall pointed out that while the bond is $5,000, timber haulers will be liable for any damage exceeding that as well.