VICTIMS' GUIDE TO TIMBER THEFT - WHERE TO FROM HERE
Timber theft is tremendously destructive to the victims, to the legitimate industry, and to the environment:
The victim suffers many adverse effects. There is monetary loss, not likely to be recompensed by the current legal system. In many cases, timber is the major financial asset of these people, which has been passed down from earlier generations, and is intended to provide for retirement or education, or other essential needs. Even more important is the mental and emotional damage caused by the stress of the loss, and the difficulty in combating it. This is particularly difficult for some of the elderly, who don’t have the stamina or resistance needed to manage it. In recent years three people have died while in the process, and their relatives are convinced that the strain and mental anguish of this arduous process hastened their deaths. Many have described timber theft as having affected them in the same way as a rape, causing the same sense of violation.
There is also a great loss of reputation and credibility to the legitimate loggers, because they are tarred by the same brush as the timber thieves.
Timber theft causes severe and permanent environmental damage. Timber thieves are only interested in getting prime timber and getting out as quickly as possible. They probably cause more permanent damage than any other industry. They think nothing of driving a road straight up the side of a mountain, pushing over poplars and other less desirable trees to get to red oaks, white oaks, and maples, and then abandoning the mess they have created , with no thought of remediation. The roads quickly become eroded and the topsoil washes away, ending up in, and clogging up, a river. The underlying clay then becomes waterlogged and breaks up into larger and larger clumps and balls. Eventually all the roads will erode down to bare rock. As everyone in Central and Eastern Kentucky should know, water supplies are becoming crucial. Hindman, Kentucky has run out of water and had to have it trucked in by the National Guard. Other towns have intermittent water failures.
Kentucky clearly has a serious timber theft problem that is not being adequately addressed. A few years back, the Louisville Courier-Journal published an article in which they characterized timber theft as probably the least prosecuted crime in Kentucky. From 2008 to2016, legislation was introduced to attempt to change the incentive system and to strengthen the hand of the Commonwealth and its investigators and prosecutors in going after timber theft. Those legislative attempts have gone nowhere so far. As some people have pointed out, including one University of Kentucky official involved in logging programs, the best approach may be to bypass the thieves and file a class action suit against the Commonwealth itself for failing an entire class of victims.
Meanwhile, every victim needs to report timber loss immediately to the Sheriff or local police, and to pursue prosecution. Victims need to band together for strength in fighting the problem. They need to make noise, bring attention to the problem, do as much on their own case as their health and resources allow, talk to legislators about the problem as a whole, and generally refuse to meekly accept victimhood. Banding together is the best way to gain power and attention. If you are a victim, please call Eco-Outpost at 606-633-9546 or 606-335-2073 and report your timber loss, or click here to email Eco-Outpost. Even if you elect not to go through the trauma of trying to get justice/compensation in your own case, you may be helping someone else by your presence on the list and the circumstances of your loss.