Derek Moore, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Poachers who target the knobby burls on old-growth redwood trees could face stiffer punishment if they are caught under legislation introduced this week by a North Coast lawmaker.
State Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, is proposing to make burl poaching a mandatory felony crime punishable by jail time and a fine of up to $10,000.
“These poachers are butchering healthy, ancient, old-growth redwoods,” said McGuire, who compared the practice to killing elephants for their tusks.
Redwood burls are crucial to the health and propagation of the majestic trees, forming at the base of trunks to shoot forth new saplings and roots. They also protect trees by forming protective layers over damaged wood.
Burls also are used to make a range of products, including tables and other furniture. That has created a lucrative market for the wood and drawn the attention of poachers, who use chainsaws and other devices to carve the prized wood away from the trees, with no regard to the damage the practice causes.