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Landowner Prosecuted for Cutting Trees on State Park Property

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Michael F. Easley, Governor
William G. Ross, Jr., Secretary

Release Note: 
Charlie Peek
Release Date: 
Sunday, August 14, 2005

Landowner Prosecuted for Cutting Trees on State Park Property

RALEIGH -- A Bessemer City man has been prosecuted in Burke County District Court for illegally cutting trees in South Mountains State Park.

At least 211 mature trees were cut in November from a two-acre area of the park near a ridgeline that borders a vacation home development, according to the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation. Rangers from South Mountains State Park, with the assistance of the State Bureau of Investigation, opened an investigation after receiving a tip from a nearby landowner.

Howard Neal Robinson, Jr. of 726 Gastonia Highway, Bessemer City, pleaded guilty in Burke County District Court on July 18 to one misdemeanor count of injury to trees, crops, lands, etc. of another (GS 14-128). Robinson was ordered to pay a $3,377 fine and agreed not to cut trees or destroy state property in the future. The amount of the fine represented the cash value of the lumber that the trees would have provided and the cost of appraisal.

According to the rangers' investigation, Robinson owned property adjacent to the park's boundary and had asked a contractor to remove the trees.

"As development spreads throughout the state, we're unfortunately seeing more threats of potential encroachment onto conservation lands," said Lewis Ledford, director of the state parks system. "We consider violations such as this to be very serious, because the resources in any state park belong to all the citizens of North Carolina. And, we want to make it clear that the state parks system will not tolerate this sort of encroachment."