Thieves make off with pine boughs

Thieves make off with pine boughs

From Washington State Department of Natural Resources

Holiday wreaths and garlands made from pine boughs are a wonderful sight to behold but unfortunately their seasonal popularity - and the opportunity to make some quick cash - can bring out the worst in a few people.

DNR Law Enforcement Services is investigating the recent theft of up to 20,000 pounds of pine boughs clipped from a 3-acre mixed stand of white pine on state trust land the department manages.

A person hunting on the Olympic Peninsula about 40 miles north of Forks tipped off state officials as the theft was taking place.

The thieves were able to leave before officers could arrive at the remote site.

An estimated 20,000 pounds of boughs were taken - about $5,000 at a wholesale price of 25 cents per pound.

Since many of the trees may not survive after having most of their branches hacked off, the lost timber may amount to an additional $19,500 at today's log prices, state officials said.

This incident is an example of why law enforcement is putting more emphasis on enforcing rules for harvesting boughs and other forest products, state officials said.

The incident was apparently theft because the only area harvested was well-hidden from a nearby road that made for a longer walk than necessary under a permitted harvest.

Only immature (shorter and easier-to-reach) trees were affected.

The permits the Department of Natural Resources issues to commercial harvesters require them to work only in designated areas, to avoid harvesting from the youngest trees and to take only a limited percent- age of the branches from each tree.

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