Maine Evergreen Boughs in High Demand
'Tis the season and that means Mainers looking to make some money are out in the woods harvesting Balsam Fir boughs.
The process is called tipping, and Maine landowners are generous enough to give tippers written permission to harvest the evergreen off their property.
But, when someone doesn't get that permission in writing, that's when the Maine Forest Service steps in to enforce Maine's timberland laws. Ranger, and Forest Service spokesman, Jeff Currier says if you're caught harvesting evergreen without a landowner's permission in advance you can be charged with theft.
"That theft, depending upon the value of the product stolen, can range from a misdemeanor, Class E crime, all the way up to a Class B Felony," states Currier.
Currier acknowledges that most Mainers who are tipping are doing so legally and they respect the landowner's property as well.
However, just this past weekend four people were issued summons after being caught with 1500 pounds of illegally gathered boughs.
Currier says Rangers take the confiscated boughs to a local wreath maker, where they are weighed and valued, then transferred. The wreath maker gives the Ranger a slip with the weight and value. The Ranger holds the slip until the court case goes through. If convicted, the slip is given to the landowner and they can cash it in.
Ranger Currier says their enforcement is about respect for property owners in Maine to ensure the long standing tradition of access to the much sought after greenery this time of year.
Currier says those who typically break the law by not getting permission to tip the trees are also the ones who trash the property by illegal dumping, or needlessly tearing up the property with all terrain vehicles.
Many larger wreath companies in Maine hire people to harvest their own land, but smaller companies purchase tips from independent harvesters.
When done correctly, the process of evergreen tipping is very healthy for the trees.