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Redwood Burl Poaching Spreads To Oregon

 A redwood with poached burl in the Rogue-Siskiyou National Forest.
Wendell Wood
Oregon Wild
A redwood with poached burl in the Rogue-Siskiyou National Forest.

Redwood burl poaching has long been an issue in the Redwood National Park in California. But now a conservation group says it's spotted evidence of this type of tree damage in a national forest in Oregon.

Burls are the knobby growths sometimes found at the base of towering redwood trees.

They're highly valued for their intricate designs. Cross-sections are used to make furniture or artwork.

There's been an uptick in the theft of redwood burls from public lands in northern California's redwood region.

Now Oregon Wild says it's spotted a burl theft in one of Oregon's redwood groves in the far southwest part of the state.

The group's Steve Pedery said that a redwood usually survives having its burl removed. 

"When you hack these chunks out of the tree, you're leaving the tree open to disease, to insects," Pedery said. "You're weakening it structurally in case there's a storm or a wind event in the future. And if there's a drought, you're making it very unlikely that that tree will survive."

Forest Service spokesman Tom Knappenberger said the agency is taking the report seriously. He said theft of redwood burls is potentially a felony violation. 

Copyright 2014 Northwest News Network

Chris Lehman graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He landed his first job less than a month later, producing arts stories for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana. Three years later he headed north to DeKalb, Illinois, where he worked as a reporter and announcer for NPR–affiliate WNIJ–FM. In 2006 he headed west to become the Salem Correspondent for the Northwest News Network.