In Brief

Redwood Poaching Prompts Park Service to Close Roads

Poachers use chainsaws to harvest large growths from redwood trees. (Image credit: National Park Service)

Raiding and thieving has become a growing problem in Redwood National and State Parks in Northern California, where poachers enter the parks at night and leave with large burls and other knotty growths from the tallest trees in the world, the New York Times reports.

The National Park Service has now decided to close a 10-mile-long (16 kilometers) scenic parkway through the redwood parks from sunset to sunrise in an effort to curb the theft and damage imposed on trees that can live for thousands of years.

"Illegal redwood poaching impacts one of the most sensitive resources in Redwood National & State Parks, a designated World Heritage Biosphere Reserve, injuring trees than can live up to 2,000 years old, but also causing related impacts to scenic qualities and threatening endangered species," the National Park Service wrote in an announcement about the road closure, which went into effect on Saturday (March 1). "While regrettable, this closure is a proactive step toward preserving California's and our nation's irreplaceable natural treasures."

The illegally-harvested wood is sold as building materials and souvenirs and goes for as much as $2 to $3 a pound, a burl dealer recently told the Associated Press. A finished dining room table made of redwood can go for as much as $1,300 on eBay, according to the Associated Press.

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Laura Poppick
Live Science Contributor
Laura Poppick is a contributing writer for Live Science, with a focus on earth and environmental news. Laura has a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a Bachelor of Science degree in geology from Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. Laura has a good eye for finding fossils in unlikely places, will pull over to examine sedimentary layers in highway roadcuts, and has gone swimming in the Arctic Ocean.