Oklahoma is the first state to pass a law banning the use of timber as a building material, a move that critics say could damage the state environment and threaten the livelihoods of thousands of Oklahoma workers.
Timber blocks are common in Oklahoma, where the state produces more than half of the country’s timber and is home to many of the state�s largest companies such as Wal-Mart, Kmart and Target.
Critics say the law will lead to the closure of some of the most economically important logging sites in the state, including the nearby Timber Creek Elementary School, which is located in the rural town of Osage City.
The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality is working with landowners and landowners groups to get the new rules approved by the state Legislature, which will likely take up the legislation later this year.
The agency says it has received more than 6,000 public comments, which it has forwarded to the state legislature, which could take up a rule-making process for a new law.
State Rep. Scott Jones, a Republican from Oklahoma City, said the timber block bill will do more to protect the environment than the timber industry itself.
“It�s about jobs and it�s a good thing for the environment and it will help the state,” Jones said.
Oklahoma City Mayor Paul Stodola, who has championed the legislation, said he is proud of the legislature for approving the legislation.
He said the rule will save trees from being chopped down and will help preserve forest habitats.
“I�m not going to stand here and say that we can�t use it,” Stodolasaid.
“We can use it. But if we�re going to use it, it�ll be for the purpose of preserving the environment.”
The state is considering other regulations on the timber and timber products industry, including allowing companies to apply for permits and limiting the amount of timber a company can harvest per acre.
State officials say the rule also will save the state more than $5 million per year in fuel and maintenance costs, according to a news release.
The Timber Creek School is a small school in a small community.
Students and staff use the school to teach children about the history and culture of the region.
The school is located about an hour and a half from the town of Oklahoma City.
School officials have been critical of the timber-block ordinance in the past.
The district recently changed the school�s mascot from a green-and-white owl to a red-and white bird.
The district said the change was needed to make sure the mascot would be more visible to students and staff.
“We�re all very proud of what we do and proud to have the school district as part of the Oklahoma State Teachers� Association,” said Principal Eric Haines.