That NC Senate is a tough crowd. I tell you, tree-huggers can't go nowheres with them. Nope, notoriously rabid environmentalists like the Department of Transportation can't get a break. That's right, DOT. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources, too, but they're totally suspect anyway, right? I mean it says "environment" in the name, so you can just begin eye-rolling whenever they show up. What is it they've come together on? A Senate Committee today approved a measure that gives the billboard industry more rights to cut trees and shrubs away from their money-makers, despite opposition from DOT and DENR. The Sierra Club, but, come on.
In a startling display of magnanimity, the billboard industry has agreed to pay higher annual permit fees. Isn't that special? I didn't know we needed industries to agree to state-levied fees, but, okay, it's nice of them, They've agreed to pay higher fees and higher penalties in the event that trees are cut illegally. That's apparently going to be harder to do, but they've done their darnedest in the past. This measure follows DOT's discovery that there have been around 50 incidents of illegal tree-cutting around billboards since October. Yep, those cost the state around $750,000 in lost greenery and are being rewarded with a free pass to hit Go and Collect $200.
At a time when land conservation is threatened by insanely rising property costs, at least one senate committee isn't even interested in protecting the trees it already has. Why? Your guess is as good as mine, but you might have more time to think about it. I've got to go talk Lyndo down from my maple. He just loves it so.