By STEVEN T. DENNIS
DOWNSVILLE - The Washington County Commissioners approved expanding a new county reforestation program after touring a pilot site Tuesday.
Elmer Weibley, head of the county Soil Conservation District, said about 75 percent of the seedlings on 6.79 acres died this year, in part because of the drought. The cost of the program was $25,968, and was paid for by reforestation fees assessed against developers who chop down trees and don't replace them.
The county has about $324,000 in the reforestation fund. That money can't be used for any purpose other than planting new forests or purchasing easements to protect existing ones, said county planner Steve Goodrich.
Weibley recommended paying $500 an acre to property owners willing to have a perpetual easement to allow the county to plant trees and keep them on the property. An additional $300 per acre would go to property within 300 feet of streams, because streamside trees are important to maintaining water quality, he said.