FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JUNE 26, 2023
An important deadline is at hand for Georgia counties that require notifications be made when timber harvest operations are conducted. July 1, 2023 is the day those counties and the loggers who work within them are required to use the new online Timber Harvest Notification (THN) system.
“This system was created in response to Georgia legislation that passed in 2020,” said Georgia Forestry Commission Director Tim Lowrimore. “It changed the law in ways that make it easier for harvesters to file information that the counties need, and for counties to track harvesting activities for their records.”
Georgia counties requiring timber harvest notifications, along with timber harvesters, now use the Georgia Forestry Commission (GFC) website at gatrees.org to register their company and create an account. Subsequent county-linked input provides details about harvests, such as specific road and plat location, contact information, and planned dates. The requirements were generated by a special group of county officials and staff, forestry industry representatives, and staff from the GFC, Georgia Forestry Association, and Association of County Commissioners of Georgia.
The legislation brings clarification to a myriad of conflicting timber harvest notification requirements in different counties across the state, which resulted in confusion and, in some cases, breaches of the law. Under Georgia House Bill 897, OCGA 12-6-24 was updated, increasing fines from $500 to $1500 for failure to comply with requisites. It also narrows the scope for when a bond can be used, though a county cannot be prevented from pursuing other remedies to recoup damages to county roads or rights of way. The law allows for incremental bond increases for harvesters who have previously caused damage to county roads and/or rights of way. And it named GFC the entity to establish the website linking harvesters to county offices.
To date, 92 counties, one city, and 193 harvesters are utilizing the THN system, which has been a voluntary practice for the past year.