WAR AGAINST NATURE: Drug addicts butcher ancient California redwoods for illegal lumber trade
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
5/7/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
Unemployment coupled with drug addiction have inspired poachers to cut off the knobby growths found at the bottom of ancient California redwoods. This priceless destruction of one of Earth's most ancient survivors is then used to make decorative pieces like lacey-grained coffee tables and wall clocks.
Known as burl poaching, the practice has become so widespread along the Northern California coast that Redwood National and State Parks have been forced to close the popular Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway at night.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Known as burl poaching, the practice has become so widespread along the Northern California coast that Redwood National and State Parks have been forced to close the popular Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway at night.
Law enforcement Ranger Laura Denny says that the poachers have been targeting the remote reaches of the park with chain saws and ATVs for many years. The size and frequency of thefts have recently been on the rise.
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"When I interview suspects, that is the (reason) they say: their addiction to drugs and they can't find jobs," she says.
Park district interpretation supervisor Jeff Denny, says that it is comparable to poor people poaching rare rhinos in Africa to sell their horns. Jobs are hard to come by since the timber and commercial fishing industries went into decline.
"Originally there were two million acres of old growth forest that spanned the coast of Northern California from Oregon to Monterey," he said. "Over the past 150 years, 95 percent of that original forest has been cut. The only remaining old growth forest in existence now is almost entirely within the Redwood national park" and some state parks.
While a redwood tree can survive the practice, the legacy of the organism that could be 1,000 years old is threatened. The burl is where the tree sprouts a clone before dying. Sprouting from burls is the prevalent method of redwood propagation, and the source of the Latin name for coast redwood, Sequoia semper vierens, or "forever living."
Burl dealer Lorin Sandberg, who lives in Scio, Oregon says that he occasionally goes to Northern California to buy burl. Sandberg says it's tough to find any burl anymore, with almost all of the old growth that makes the best burls protected on public land. The good stuff with a lacey grain full of eyes will go for $2 to $3 a pound, unseasoned.
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