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Upper Cumberland Seeing Increase In Timber Theft Reports

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Upper Cumberland Seeing Increase In Timber Theft Reports

There has been an uptick in timber theft across Tennessee, and the Upper Cumberland is a hot spot for these crimes.

Tim Phelps is the Public Information Officer for the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Forestry Division. Phelps said that the type of land owners we have are making them more susceptible in the booming timber market.

“There’s a lot of absentee landowners in that area,” Phelps said. “Or even sometimes older landowners that aren’t constantly out monitoring their property. When they do go out or when they do visit their property if they’re absentee, they might notice some missing trees.”

Phelps said a key tool to combating this kind of theft is working with a private forester, which the department of agriculture has a directory for online. Phelps said a private forester can monitor property, help mark and survey boundaries and give land owners a value on their timber inventory.

Phelps broke down the two types of timber theft that occur.

“There’s a negligent type, where you just don’t have your boundary lines appropriately marked and if a neighbor is having timber cut, the logger or whoever is harvesting might see a nice tree either on or near the property. They can’t tell, they take it, that would be considered negligent,” Phelps said. “Versus intentional theft and this is just outright theft. This is going in, in the middle of the night and extracting a tree or two or multiple trees for their value, knowingly taking the timber.”

Phelps said that the tree most valued right now is white oak. He said this is due to a national and international demand for bourbon and whiskey.

“White oak is used to make barrels for Tennessee whiskey and Kentucky bourbon,” Phelps said. “Both of those spirits are having an international and domestic surge in popularity. This has been going on and it’s been climbing for a couple of years now. Because both of those products require an unused, basically virgin barrel made out of white oak staves.”

Phelps said that reporting timber theft can be done online, by visiting the Tennessee Department of Agriculture website. There is also a phone number to report a suspected timber theft at 844-AG-CRIME.


The post Upper Cumberland Seeing Increase In Timber Theft Reports appeared first on News Talk 94.1/AM 1600.