For almost 60 years, our family-owned business has provided public access to more than 19,000 acres of our property, as a part of the Scotch Wildlife Management Area (WMA). We would have been happy to continue to do so for another 60 years, if it were not for action by the Federal government that threatens our use of the land.
With the listing, in 2015, of the Black Pinesnake as a Threatened Species under the Endangered Species Act, we believe that we are now on a slippery slope toward a time when our use of our own timberland will be seriously restricted.
In the timber business, we must deal with extraordinarily long time horizons. As a family owned business that has survived for generations, those of us who are stewards of the business today must consider the potential impact of our decisions on those generations who will come after us.
On the advice of counsel, and after thoughtful consideration, we have reluctantly come to the conclusion that we must remove our land from the Wildlife Management Area, or risk losing effective control of it for the forestry activity that is our lumber business’ life’s blood.
We wish to be clear that we will abide by all local, state and federal laws and regulations, including the Endangered Species Act.
But by continuing to allow our lands to be a part of the WMA, as we have over the last six decades, we run a very real risk that further and further restrictions will be placed on our land, to the point that it would effectively undermine the very basis of our business.
It is our firm belief that the listing of the Black Pinesnake as a Threatened Species, which took place without any public hearing, was based on insufficient scientific evidence that was presumably gathered by individuals accessing the WMA for their own purposes.
Additionally, we cannot overlook current developments in environmental law, now taking place in California and other states, that further threaten our ability to engage in effective timber management practices.
The combined effect of these and other actions by the federal government have led us to the inescapable conclusion that to allow our land to continue to remain a part of the WMA will be to risk losing effective control of our land altogether in the years ahead.
We, therefore, will be exercising our right to withdraw our land from the WMA, effective in ninety days.
To the many law-abiding citizens who have enjoyed hunting and other recreational and conservation activities on the land for the past 60 years, and to the Alabama Department of Conservation & Natural Resources, we say thank you for being such good stewards of the land.
Our action is by no means directed at you.
We wish we could have continued to allow our land to be used for decades to come, but unfortunately these recent developments leave us no choice.
We ask those who have come to rely on hunting this land to consider the fact that we were led to this action only by what we regard as over-reach by the Federal government.