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Timber laws needed




Those who steal trees from people’s private property are doing so at an alarming rate and we believe those who do so should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

Tree thieves have been blamed for stealing timber all across the country, often taking advantage of the elderly and absentee landowners. When some of them are confronted, they sometimes say they didn’t realize that they had crossed property lines.

We believe this is a pretty lame excuse since legitimate loggers will be clear on property boundaries before they get under way.

Lawmakers are considering two bills in the General Assembly that would make sawing down someone else’s trees a felony, punishable by one to five years to prison.

State Rep. Leslie Combs, D-Pikeville, is sponsoring legislation that also would require landowners, under penalty of prosecution, to mail written notification to adjacent property owners if loggers are going to be cutting trees. This could provide quicker detection in the event of theft.

The legislation would require that logs be marked or branded to show which company cut them, in case a dispute arises. Rangers from the state Division of Forestry would be given additional responsibility to investigate complaints.

This is sound legislation that will provide some clarity to the issue and also hold those accountable who steal timber from private landowners.

One really good example of why this legislation needs to be passed is the story of Letcher County resident Mitchum Whitaker.

He recently saw what loggers had done to his property, taking down trees so that all that was left were stumps.

In all the 12 trees were worth $5,000, but it wasn’t a matter of money to Whitaker because of the fine memories he had of those trees.

Under one of the destroyed trees he had spent countless hours sitting with his grandfather and later his son. They even had their initials carved in that tree.

Let’s help people like Mr. Whitaker and urge lawmakers to pass this legislation so trees that hold memories like his aren’t destroyed and to ensure that those who take advantage of people like him are held accountable.

– Daily News, Bowling Green


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