Redwood Blues

Towering redwood trees have long been a symbol associated with California. However, certain people have recently been going into state parks and forests in northern California and cutting down ancient redwoods in order to sell their valuable lumber. Redwood lumber sells for $3-$5 a pound according to National Geographic, and can be used to make everything from furniture to guns. Even more important is the fact that certain redwood trees can be hundreds, if not thousands, of years old.

Redwoods in California’s national parks are being illegally cut down. Image by Allie Caulfield.

The specific part of the tree that these so-called poachers are targeting is the burl, a piece of wood that protrudes from the redwood’s side. The tree can live after being cut into, but an open wound on a tree is similar to one on a human. Disease-carrying organisms can enter the redwood’s exposed cavity and cause fatal infections. The cuts also hamper the redwood’s reproductive viability, and can weaken the tree, making it more likely to fall over during strong winds or an earthquake.

To make matters worse, there are very few ancient redwoods left in California. As a result, every tree that is damaged or destroyed could possibly have a huge impact on its surrounding environment and the overall population of ancient trees. Although the police have not arrested anyone yet, they have reason to believe that the culprits are not necessarily working together. The authorities also argue that the people involved in chopping down these redwoods are possible drug users or criminals looking for quick cash, according to Fox News. Rangers all over the state have increased patrols around areas where redwoods are prevalent, as reports of  trees being illegally cut down continue to rise.

The fact that certain people would willingly cut a piece of history down is disappointing to say the least, and the state government in Sacramento should definitely be devoting more resources to protecting its national parks and apprehending these criminals, especially given the importance of the redwood tree to California’s culture and history.

Sources

http://www.foxnews.com/science/2014/03/06/burl-poachers-threaten-majestic-redwoods-in-california/

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/03/140306-redwood-poachers-burl-wood-national-park-crime/

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