A camera trap hidden in the trees helped catch a timber thief who confessed to the illegal harvest of old-growth timber on the side of historical Lookout Mountain, Tennessee.

See also: Whiskey barrels and illegal White Oak timber

Hidden cameras and illegal logging

In September 2020, A park ranger on patrol noticed an illegal road that was created off of Old Wauhatchie Pike. The National Park Service (NPS) installed several live-monitored cellular game cameras which captured images of the man returning to the illegal logging site.

The suspect was identified following interviews and a visit to a sawmill specializing in old-growth White Oak trees in Alabama. The man later confessed and was sentenced to nearly a year in prison.

Satellite view of approximate location of lookout mountain oak timber theft
Approximate location of illegal timber harvest of old-growth Oak trees on Lookout Mountain. Source: Timber Risk Map

The illegal wood trade in the U.S.

Timber theft occurs frequently throughout the United States.

Over the past four months, more than 20 timber theft cases have been reported in East Texas from Newton to Bowie Counties.

Timber Theft Is On The Rise In Texas“, Texas A&M Today – January 16, 2014

Illegal logs are delivered to sawmills and the wood is commercialized, often, long before the crime is known.

See: Whiskey barrels and illegal White Oak timber

Although The Lacey Act makes it unlawful to process, transport, sell or buy wood that’s been harvested or traded illegally in the United States; the law is rarely applied to domestic instances of the illegal wood trade.

And large scale illegality in the U.S. timber industry appears to go undetected or brushed aside.

See: Is wood distribution from rigged timber sales illegal under the Lacey Act?

See also: Two Alaska timber sales were not managed in accordance with USDA Forest Service policy

Buyers of American wood products concerned about the legal origin of the timber in the United States can begin by asking their supplier where in the forest the timber originated.

Concerned about legal risks in timber supply chains? Join TimberCheck™ or check the Timber Risk Map. Want to explore the declared origin of a wood product? Start a WoodFlow™. Curious what the forest looks like after the presumed harvest, request access to TimberSat™.