Special Report: Deadhead Logging - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Special Report: Deadhead Logging

Posted: Updated:
Senate President Pro Tem Tommie Williams has long lobbied for the logs to be recovered and sold, because that was the original intent. Senate President Pro Tem Tommie Williams has long lobbied for the logs to be recovered and sold, because that was the original intent.
Senate Bill 362 makes it one step closer to becoming legal to dig for these rare and beautiful logs. Senate Bill 362 makes it one step closer to becoming legal to dig for these rare and beautiful logs.
The Flint River was a vital transportation artery to Albany in the 1800's. The Flint River was a vital transportation artery to Albany in the 1800's.
Robin Singletary owns Covey Rise Plantations, on the Flint River Robin Singletary owns Covey Rise Plantations, on the Flint River

These days, the Flint River flows very quietly and gently, but it wasn't always like that. During the 19th and early 20th century, the river was used as a main source of exports of virgin pine and cypress logs. Some of those logs being dropped along the way.

Now these logs that once at the bottom of the river are at the top of the list of very valuable wood because of its rarity and beautiful colors.

Now some Georgia legislators want to make it legal to recover up these logs.

Robin Singletary owns Covey Rise Plantations which sits on the Flint River. He believes disturbing the river to get these logs just doesn't make sense.

"I can't see where that pretty piece of wood is worth the chance that you take disturbing the habitat for the fish and wildlife and other critters in the river just for somebody to have a pretty mantelpiece," said Singletary.

Senate President Pro Tem Tommie Williams has long lobbied for the logs to be recovered and sold, because that was the original intent.

"These are logs that were cut down by ax or by saw to get to the marketplace. We're just continuing the process to get them to the marketplace," said Williams.

Williams says senate bill 362 will create jobs for loggers and bring money to the state. Singletary disagrees.

"I'm all for creating jobs. I'm a small business man here. We run a hunting lodge down here and we operate two peanut buying points. I understand the need for jobs, but we don't need bad jobs," said Singletary.

"The concern is really the process of removing the wood. What kind of physical disturbance that causes? Does it rearrange sediments and create loose sediments and things like that, that make a poor habitat," said Aquatic Biologist Steve Golladay.

Steve Golladay is an Aquatic Biologist with the Joseph W. Jones Ecology Research Center in Newton, Georgia and says the equipment and process of removing the logs posses the biggest threat to the aquatic life in the river.

"If the harvests were done extremely carefully with minimal disturbance to the bottom, the impact other than the loss of habitat could be relatively minimal. If there was a lot of disturbance to the bottom... Dragging the wood... Heavy equipment and things like that, it could be a very server disturbance and cause a lot of problems," said Golladay.

Those problems include water quality because of sediments and possible pollutants that may be stirred up while removing the logs. Critics of the bill also say the bill will hurt the habitat of aquatic creatures.

Williams disagrees.  "This doesn't destroy habitats. It really opens up the river to get boats up and down better," said Williams.

Williams says he understands his oppositions' arguments but says they aren't standing on solid ground.

"The people that did the hard work to put them in the river to get them to the port intended for them to be sold, so I understand their argument, but it's not a very legitimate argument in my opinion," said Williams.

Senate Bill 362 was approved by a vote of 37-12 this past Friday, which means it's one step closer to becoming legal to dig for these rare and beautiful logs.

 

Copyright 2012 WALB.  All rights reserved.