We’re off and running! The Timber Harvest Notification (THN) website, housed on the Georgia Forestry Commission’s site at gatrees.org, has been activated.
What exactly does it do? It gives timber harvesters a uniform format for providing counties or cities that require harvest notification the information they need. Information such as harvest site location, public road ingress, and egress points, landowner and logger contact details, and harvest acreage are captured in an easy-to-use format designed for harvesting entities who’ve set up a simple account. County and municipal officials are alerted by email when a harvest notification is entered. Pre-determined receiving departments may include offices of the road department, tax assessor, code enforcement, and county commissioner.
While the system just unveiled is being lauded for its design and simplicity, that didn’t happen by accident – or overnight. The conversation began in 2019 when a timber harvest working group began to meet to consider necessary changes to laws that hadn’t changed since 2015. There was disparity among Georgia counties as to how harvesting processes were tracked, and confusion among those involved was a frequent result. With leadership from the Georgia Forestry Association, Association County Commissioners of Georgia, Georgia Forestry Commission, timber harvesters, and forest industry partners, the group’s work resulted in House Bill 897 and changes to the Official Code of Georgia 12-6-24. Along with increased bond amounts for harvesters who’ve previously been found to cause damage to county roads and increased fines for harvesters who fail to notify the county in which they’re operating, a directive was included for the Georgia Forestry Commission to create the THN website.
Many months of research, surveying, designing, and testing went into the THN website, and those associated with the project say they’re pleased with the results. It’s considered a “win-win” for counties and harvesters. It follows the letter of the law. It’s intuitive and free. It can be used on mobile, tablet, and desk devices. And it keeps everyone who’s in the loop IN the loop!
For the next 18 months, counties that require timber harvest notifications will be transitioning their notification processes to the new system. It will become the mandatory notification process after that. Feedback and questions from users are encouraged by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.