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Man illegally cuts down centuries-old oak trees at national military park in Georgia

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  • Man illegally cuts down centuries-old oak trees at national military park in Georgia

    Officials: Man cut down oaks at Civil War site, stole timber (apnews.com)

    This article got me to pondering.... what if somebody trespassed onto your private property and cut down your prized large trees and hauled the logs away without your consent.
    The mature trees can not be replaced in your lifetime, it takes far too many years to regrow.
    What is a suitable punishment for a crook that would do this? Would such a criminal only get one year in prison like the low-life that cut the trees in this national park?


    Here is the full article:

    FORT OGLETHORPE, Ga. (AP) — A man convicted of stealing timber from century-old live oak trees at a Civil War battlefield near the Georgia-Tennessee line has been sentenced to about a year in prison.

    A ranger at Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, reported in September that the trees were missing, National Park Service officials said in a statement last week. The park preserves the sites of the 1863 Battle of Chickamauga and the subsequent Battles for Chattanooga.

    The ranger said he “noticed an illegal road” and evidence of trees being dragged from the forest and into a parking lot, later discovering more than a dozen cut trees, including several old-growth oaks, in an area of the park.

    The ranger installed game cameras and captured video of a man revisiting the site several days later, the statement said. Interviews with people in the area, including staff at an Alabama sawmill specializing in old-growth white oak trees, led authorities to James Darren Scott.

    The 53-year-old, who lives in both Bryant, Alabama, and Trenton, Georgia, was charged in the theft after a six-month investigation, officials said.

    He was taken into custody this month and accepted a plea deal agreeing to serve 11 months and 29 days in the Silverdale Correctional Complex in Hamilton County, Tennessee, according to the National Park Service. Officials did not say exactly when Scott was arrested.

    A specialist with the U.S. Department of the Interior estimated the theft and damage to the park at approximately $60,000, park officials said, adding: “It is difficult to put a price tag on trees that are over 100 years old.”

    sigpic
    In the middle of MinneSTUDEa.

  • #2
    Down here, we take a deem view of people trespassing. Normally a warning shot followed by a bulls eye shot.

    Bo
    Bo

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    • #3
      What is a suitable punishment for a crook that would do this?
      Seems that a suitable punishment, aka restitution, would be to spend his sentence righting his wrong by planting and/or caring for new trees for the duration of the sentence. Maybe for some that would not be a real punishment though with all that fresh air and exercise....

      That does not address the trespassing of course.

      Jeff in ND

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      • #4
        Why didn't the punishment include a $60,000 fine? That's not the end of the world (i.e., "doable" in due time), especially if he sold the timber...and he probably did... BP
        We've got to quit saying, "How stupid can you be?" Too many people are taking it as a challenge.

        Ayn Rand:
        "You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality."

        G. K. Chesterton: This triangle of truisms, of father, mother, and child, cannot be destroyed; it can only destroy those civilizations which disregard it.

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        • #5
          Tree law is generally pretty clear. Damages often get a 3x multiplier causing restitution to be in the $100k’s.
          1964 Studebaker GT Hawk
          1970 Jaguar E-Type 2+2
          2003 Ferrari 575 Maranello (3 Pedal)
          2007 Jaguar XK Convertible
          2011 Jaguar XJL 5.0 SC

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Jeff_H View Post
            Seems that a suitable punishment, aka restitution, would be to spend his sentence righting his wrong by planting and/or caring for new trees for the duration of the sentence. Maybe for some that would not be a real punishment though with all that fresh air and exercise....
            That does not address the trespassing of course.
            The trespassing doesn't bother me much, it is the destruction of one's property that bothers me.
            For example, if I was away from home for a few days and then returned to find that someone had clear-cut my property while I was away, I would be distraught!
            Even if the culprit was apprehended, I imagine that the best I could hope for would be fair-market-value of the timber, paid for by the culprit. But similar to what the article says, how do you put a price on trees when it takes so many decades for regrowth? My property value would plummet, the privacy from my neighbors would be gone and I would become very depressed. I am not worried that this injustice will happen to me, but anything is possible when a profit is to be had.

            I like your idea of forcing the culprit to replant trees for the duration of his sentence. It is not a severe punishment, but at least some benefit to others would come from it.
            sigpic
            In the middle of MinneSTUDEa.

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            • #7
              If it was the oak trees in my yard, I would expect a monetary settlement, as well as locking the guy up.
              Gary L.
              Wappinger, NY

              SDC member since 1968
              Studebaker enthusiast much longer

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              • #8
                Replant the trees, then when they grow up to say 50 feet tall, let him out of prison! If he lives that long!

                Jim
                "We can't all be Heroes, Some us just need to stand on the curb and clap as they go by" Will Rogers

                We will provide the curb for you to stand on and clap!


                Indy Honor Flight www.IndyHonorFlight.org

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                • #9
                  I think the fine should be several times the amount the trees would have brought. I also believe prison sentence would not be enough in and of itself. Of course then the person who does this kind of thing often doesn't have the money for substantial fines.....
                  Joe Roberts
                  '61 R1 Champ
                  '65 Cruiser
                  Eastern North Carolina Chapter

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                  • #10
                    I think chaining him to a huge tree in the park for a year would be a fair punishment. Being a kind person, I'd even give him a blanket.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Milaca View Post

                      But similar to what the article says, how do you put a price on trees when it takes so many decades for regrowth? My property value would plummet, the privacy from my neighbors would be gone and I would become very depressed. I am not worried that this injustice will happen to me, but anything is possible when a profit is to be had.
                      When we lived in North Vancouver, BC it was illegal to take any tree down (above 6” diam @ 2 ft up) without first obtaining signatures from all affected neighbors, then taking it to city Council, and then using a certified tree service. Some parts of Canada take their trees more seriously than others, but the policy couldn’t account for diseased trees that otherwise looked handsome to neighbors. These trees must come down.

                      All over North America - including here in North Carolina - humans often live far too close to dangerous trees, diseased or otherwise, that just won’t stand up in fires or storms.

                      But as a counterpoint to the above, no one should be taking a bullet for a tree: it’s just a plant.

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                      • #12
                        Some parts of Canada take their trees more seriously than others, but the policy couldn’t account for diseased trees that otherwise looked handsome to neighbors. These trees must come down.
                        Reminds me I need to call the tree service soon and get on their list to have a tree taken out this season. Its sort of straddling the property line and a decade or so ago the neighbor had a large limb cut off to clear room for his new garage. Rot set in. 2yrs ago I had the tree lady look at it and she thought at that time it could stay for a while yet. But, last year some ants started getting into it so its gotta go before it "goes" on my garage. Neighbor and I have discussed this and not a issue. I think 2yrs ago it was going to be something like $1500 to remove it. This is not a valuable tree like a oak, just a box-elder.

                        Jeff in ND

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                        • #13
                          Well from personal experience last fall the 'new neighbor' cut down 12 of my trees ! They were the ONLY divider between our lots......he wanted a more "city" look to his property. The tree 'infested look' is why the folks move here.....other wise why not stay in YOUR city and save the 25-30 mile drive from the city . Gosh how far from people do you have to move to get away from fools? Sherm / Green Bay

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Jeff_H View Post

                            Reminds me I need to call the tree service soon and get on their list to have a tree taken out this season. Its sort of straddling the property line and a decade or so ago the neighbor had a large limb cut off to clear room for his new garage. Rot set in. 2yrs ago I had the tree lady look at it and she thought at that time it could stay for a while yet. But, last year some ants started getting into it so its gotta go before it "goes" on my garage. Neighbor and I have discussed this and not a issue. I think 2yrs ago it was going to be something like $1500 to remove it. This is not a valuable tree like a oak, just a box-elder.
                            Do they turn the entire tree into chips, and haul the chips away? And do they grind the stump down to ground level for that price? I'm just curious as to why it costs that much.
                            sigpic
                            In the middle of MinneSTUDEa.

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                            • #15
                              Had 13 oaks about 100 ft tall removed last fall for $1175/tree from around the house. RJ said the two closest to the house would have been over $2000 each if they not been here to remove the rest. They needed to work over the septic tank to get to several of them with no damage. Stump removal was $70/ft of diameter just to give you the price in Michigan. RJ owns Top Flyte tree removal and he is fully insured and pays well with benefits. His employees have been with him since he started in business over 10 years ago.

                              His prices are not the highest but he has never advertised and has a consistent 6 month backlog. Equipment is first rate his guys work their tails off and damage nothing.

                              His BIL takes the logs and turns them into firewood for crap wood, lumber for decent stuff and dried wood for good stuff like the oak from my property. Why didn't I keep it. I still have several hundred feet of oak and ash from previous thinning. Everything else is sent through the chipper and it's a monster that can handle up to 10 in of oak.

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                              Bob
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                              Last edited by sweetolbob; 03-25-2021, 05:31 AM.

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