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Redwood Burl Poaching Spreads To Oregon

AP Photo/Redwood National and State Parks, Laura Denn
This file photo provided by the National Park Service shows a wildlife biologist standing next to a massive scar where a burl has been cut by poachers from an old growth redwood tree in the Redwood National and State Parks.

Redwood burl poaching has long been an issue in the Redwood National Park in California. But now a conservation group says it has spotted evidence of this type of tree damage in a national forest in Oregon.

Burls are the knobby growths sometimes found at the base of the towering trees. They're highly valued for their intricate designs; cross-sections are used to make furniture or artwork.

There's been an uptick in the theft of redwood burls from public lands in northern California's redwood region. Now Oregon Wild says it has spotted a burl theft in one of Oregon's redwood groves in the far southwest part of the state. 

Steve Pedery with Oregon Wild says while a redwood usually survives having its burl removed, the process can prove heavily damaging.

“When you hack these chunks out of the tree, you're leaving the tree open to disease, to insects. You're weakening it structurally in case there's a storm or a wind event in the future. And if there's a drought, you're making it very unlikely that that tree will survive," he said. 

Forest Service spokesman Tom Knappenberger says the agency is taking the report seriously. He says theft of redwood burls is potentially a felony violation. Complicating things, redwood burls can be obtained legally from private timber land or old stumps.


Chris Lehman graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He landed his first job less than a month later, producing arts stories for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana. Three years later he headed north to DeKalb, Illinois, where he worked as a reporter and announcer for NPR–affiliate WNIJ–FM. In 2006 he headed west to become the Salem Correspondent for the Northwest News Network.