Wood poaching: Men charged with slashing old-growth redwood
Janill Gilbert stashed this in Naughty
Morons! Injuring our majestic redwood!
This May 21, 2013 photo provided by the National Park Service shows wildlife biologist Terry Hines standing next to a massive scar on an old growth redwood tree in the Redwood National and State Parks near Klamath, Calif., where poachers have cut off a burl to sell for decorative wood. The park recently took the unusual step of closing at night a 10-mile road through a section of the park to deter thieves. (AP Photo/Redwood National and State Parks, Laura Denn) Photo: Laura Denny, Associated Press
A suspected redwood tree slasher and burl bandit was arrested after park officials tracked the wood poacher and an accomplice to a Del Norte County shop where they allegedly peddled the purloined lumber.
Danny Garcia, 43, of Orick (Humboldt County), was charged this week with felony grand theft, vandalism and receiving stolen property after the redwood burls he allegedly sold matched the large cuts found in a mutilated old growth tree in Redwood National and State Parks, in Humboldt County.
His co-conspirator, Larry Morrow, 34, also of Orick, was charged with the same crimes Wednesday, according to Jeff Denny, a Redwoods park ranger. Morrow was already being held in Humboldt County Jail on unrelated charges when he was booked on the burl banditry rap.
"We have successfully identified at least two individuals we feel are responsible for this crime," Denny said. However, "we are not under the impression that these are the only individuals involved in this kind of activity in the park."
Burl poaching, which involves cutting the valuable knobby growths at the base of redwood trees, is a growing problem in far northern California, where most of the state's existing old growth trees remain. The ancient growths are prized by woodworkers because of their intricate ring patterns and are often used to make tables, furniture, knife handles, trinkets and other lumber products.
Depending on the size and quantity, a wood burl can be sold for anywhere from $200 to $2,000, said Denny. The money is a strong lure in rural areas where lumber mills have recently closed down, jobs are scarce and drug addiction is a growing problem. The remote areas of the Redwood National and State Parks have been a particular draw for poachers riding ATVs and carrying chain saws. The 133,000-acre park contains almost 40 percent of the world's remaining old growth redwoods.
"There is a financial incentive," Denny said. "Burl is being sold internationally as well as in the local market."
The latest investigation began on April 19, 2013 when a bear researcher found several massive cuts in an old growth tree along the Redwood Creek drainage in the southern end of the park. The largest cut measured 8.3 feet at the base, 8.2 feet in height and was 1.7 feet deep, Denny said.
The culprits cut the burls into slabs weighing more than 100 pounds each dragged them several hundred yards to a road. They were so large that some of them were left behind. Denny said rangers monitored the tree, but the bandits somehow managed to sneak back and make off with the rest of the burl booty.
Park officials soon received an anonymous tip that the burls had been sold to a tourist shop in Del Norte County, where investigators obtained Garcia and Morrow's names on the receipts for the sale. Denny said rangers were able to match the burls to the cuts in the tree.
"In this particular case we were fortunate to have the raw material that had not yet been cut and turned into a different shape," Denny said. "In this case we had exact matches of the size and shape."
The 10-foot diameter redwood tree was badly damaged, but is expected to survive. The problem is that the sprouts from burls are an important part of redwood regeneration and, researchers say, the source of the Latin name for coast redwood, Sequoia sempervirens, or "forever living."
"We've had half a dozen incidents of these very large cuts within the last two years and we've documented other wood poaching in the park," Denny said. "It is our hope that we can stem the tide of this type of crime, show people we are working to protect their parks and let the public know that this is a significant problem in our parks."
Sequoia sempervirens / s ɨ ˈ k ɔɪ . ə s ɛ m p ər ˈ v aɪər ən z /  is the sole living species of the genus Sequoia in the cypress family Cupressaceae (formerly treated in Taxodiaceae). Common names include coast redwood and California redwood. It is an evergreen, long-lived, monoecious tree living 1,200–1,800 years or more. This species includes the tallest trees living now on Earth, reaching up to 379 feet (115.5 m) in height (without the roots) and up to 26 feet (7.9 m) in diameter at breast height.
Good news/bad news: The 10-foot diameter redwood tree was badly damaged, but is expected to survive. The problem is that the sprouts from burls are an important part of redwood regeneration and, researchers say, the source of the Latin name for coast redwood, Sequoia sempervirens, or "forever living."
I've never heard of wood poaching before.
Amazing that wood poachers can't find something better to do with their time.