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Tree poaching is on the rise in Oregon Forests

A tree stump in Deschutes National Forest
United States Forest Service - Pacific Northwest Region
A tree stump in Deschutes National Forest

Forest officials across Oregon are trying to crack down on tree poachers. Harvesting trees without a permit is illegal. And those same permits are only good for dead trees that are standing or downed within designated areas.

Jeremy Fields is a forest protection officer with the Deschutes National Forest. He’s identified dozens of cases of illegal cutting. Freshly-cut live trees, including those exceeding the permitted limit of 24 inches in diameter, were found lying on the forest floor. Some were around 400 years old.

“I don’t know if there’s enough education to the general public as to the importance of those trees in our ecosystem," Fields said. "A lot of people just think that trees in the national forest, dead, belong in firewood form.”

Woodcutting season ended weeks ago, but will start again in May. Tree harvesting permits can be obtained through any of Oregon’s National Forest offices. Rangers can assist with directing people where and where not to harvest.

Jasmine Lewin was a freelance reporter in 2022 and 2023. Originally from Portland, Oregon, Lewin wrote for the University of Oregon quarterly magazine Ethos before graduating with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.
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