Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Redwood burl poacher gets light sentence in northern California

Here's the story from Kimberly Wear for California's North Coast Journal.  The man gets a sentence of community service rather than prison or parole.  : 

An Orick man is now banned from stepping foot into Redwood National and State Parks as part of his sentencing today after pleading guilty last month to poaching burl from old growth redwoods at the protected site. He also received two years probation, a $1,200 fine and 400 hours of community service.

Derek Alwin Hughes' case dates back to 2018, when the parks' rangers began an investigation into the pillaging of an old growth tree near Newton B. Drury Parkway that had massive chunks cut out from the base. Using photo monitoring and tire track evidence, they were able to obtain a search warrant for Hughes' home.

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Incidents, like the one involving Hughes, are unfortunately not uncommon in Redwood National and State Parks, which is home to some of the world's last old growth stands. 

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And redwoods are not the only local natural resource under siege, succulents and red abalone, a species on the brink with the collapse of much of the state's bull kelp forests amid a "perfect storm" of ecological events tied to climate change, are among other local plants and wildlife also sought by poachers.

Humboldt County Deputy District Attorney Steven Steward, who prosecuted Hughes' case, had asked the court to impose the maximum fine — a three year sentence and $10,000 fine — "given the extent of damage to irreplaceable shared natural resources and the importance of deterring such behavior," a release from the DA's Office states.

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