Experts share tips to avoid being a victim of logging theft

Published: Jan. 18, 2023 at 7:39 PM EST
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LUDLOW, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont isn’t facing a shortage of trees, but the heavily regulated timber industry isn’t immune to some bad actors.

“There’s bad apples in every bunch,” said Robbo Holleran, the head of the Vermont Forestry Foundation.

Holleran has been doing forest management in Vermont for decades and says logging theft -- or timber trespassing -- isn’t usually intentional. “Most of what we call timber trespass in Vermont is over uncertain boundaries, undisputed boundaries,” he explained.

But sometimes it is intentional. Recently, a woman in Barre received a letter, offering to compensate her for logging on her property. Keith Thompson, the Private Lands Program manager at the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation, says this type of communication should always be considered suspicious. “There are many extremely professional loggers out there,” Thompson said. “Most do not need to be knocking on doors to get new clients.”

If forest owners aren’t careful, Thompson says they can end up with a loss in property value and face steep fines. “In many of these cases, the contracts or the agreements these landowners signed, did nothing but obligate them to sell their woods, and if anything, did very little to protect them from harms,” he said.

Thompson and Holleran say the best way to avoid being scammed is to do your research. “A lot of people own forestland but don’t know anything about forestry and don’t do the forest work,” Holleran said. “So there are forest managers, like me, and the loggers are the ones who do the work.”

“If they don’t have a forest manager, look them up online, do some research,” Thompson said.

According to the Agency of Natural Resources, the logging industry contributes roughly $861 million in sales to the state’s economy and directly employs 6,600 people.

“A majority of loggers are extremely professional and care deeply about the work they’re doing,” Thompson said.

If you need help managing a forest area on your property, the ANR has resources on its website.

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