Meth Heads "Reclaiming" Our Redwood from State Parks

Apr 10, 2014 at 1pm

By Jennifer Maerz

Make fun of San Francisco's rampant reclaimed wood aesthetic all you like – as a woodworking nerd, I love that cabin (design) fever is spreading from Northern California all the way to Paris. But the trend is blowing up at a price. The New York Times is reporting that poachers, many of whom are assumed to be meth addicts desperate for cash in a tanked economy, are hacking up trees around the beloved Avenue of the Giants area just north of Humboldt County now that burl is such a hot commodity. Burl, the Times explains, "are the gnarly protrusions on the trees that are prized for their intricately patterned wood." (I'd add that, as tables, they're also great garage sale scores). People can get anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars for the slabs they sell. At least 18 times over the last year, poachers have chainsawed off large chunks of trees in state parks to get at those gnarly bits, causing the park to close eight miles of one historic drive at night to try and deter thieves. "Last year, a redwood estimated to be 400 years old was felled by thieves who wanted access to a 500-pound burl 60 feet up," The Times reports, later adding that "Park officials liken the crimes to killing elephants for ivory." It should be noted that these aren't any old trees – Redwoods can live to be 2,000 years old and grow to more than 300 ft tall, according to the Redwood National Park website

This is pretty sad news, as our Redwood parks are a huge part of the state's identity, not to mention one of my favorite California escapes. I guess we'll have to add "ethical wood sourcing" to our growing list of "knowing where the stuff we like comes from." 

Image from Thinkstock

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