Illegal woodcutting operation near Cle Elum uncovered by KCSO deputy

Cle Elum
Image credit: Kittitas County Sheriff, Facebook

ELLENSBURG, Wash. — Woodcutting without a permit is illegal at Washington state’s Forest Service, leading one Kittitas County deputy to investigate and uncover an illegal operation spearheaded by a man from Cle Elum.

According to an alert from the Kittitas County Sheriff, the deputy found evidence of the operation on Forest Service Road 9705 near Mineral Springs on Friday, June 17. The deputy uncovered trees that were cut down illegally along with stumps that were intentionally concealed by tree limbs.

They contacted the US Forest Service Law Enforcement to launch a joint investigation, which came to a head on Tuesday, June 21. Authorities say they spotted a man picking up and loading wood into a pickup truck and trailer near the area where the evidence was initially found.

A Cle Elum resident—ironically, with the last name Woods—admitted to cutting down, taking and selling more than five cords of wood he harvested without a permit. Under federal criminal codes, the man was cited for the unregulated operation. If he offends again, the man could have his assets seized by federal authorities. That would include his truck and the attached trailer.

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Woodcutting guidelines were outlined online by the Kittitas County Sheriff’s Office:

  • You cannot sell wood obtained under a free permit.
  • You may sell wood obtained under a commercial use firewood permit. These permits are $5 a cord with a 4 cord minimum purchase and a limit of 12 cords per house per year.
  • No felling of live trees anywhere; and no felling of standing dead trees for firewood except within one approved section on Table Mountain.
  • Wood harvested under a permit must be tagged, with the year and month on the tag notched, prior to transport. Tags and associated permits are numbered.
  • While cutting wood you must have a metal shovel and fire extinguisher. You must also have permit, tags, and map with you.
  • No cutting in riparian areas or more than 150’ from a road.
  • While it’s not illegal to drive off road to harvest wood, it is illegal to damage resources—including trees and undergrowth—by cross country travel.

Woodcutting permits, both recreational and commercial, are available from the Forest Service office at 803 W 2nd St in Cle Elum, or the Kittitas County Chamber of Commerce at 609 N Main St.

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