On August 6th the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington announced that three tree cutters and a mill operator were indicted under the Lacey Act for the alleged trafficking of illegally harvested Big Leaf Maple from federal lands. According to the indictment, the cutters are charged with theft of government property and damaging government property for illegally harvesting Big Leaf Maple trees in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Harold Kupers of J & L Tonewoods, who owns the mill where the wood was processed, is also being prosecuted for allegedly purchasing and selling wood prosecutors believe he knew was taken in violation of Washington State law.
This case highlights the fact that the due care requirement under the Lacey Act applies to all wood products purchases, whether the product is sourced domestically or internationally. IWPA supports the ultimate goals of the Lacey Act – to eliminate illegal logging while maintaining the ability of U.S. consumers and businesses to source the highest quality wood products. Our own membership is mostly comprised of small, family owned businesses that operate in a global marketplace where the supply chain is complex and every participant throughout that chain has an important role to play. Compliance continues to be a challenge for companies that remain committed to fulfilling their responsibilities under the Lacey Act.
To maintain the highest standards and protections for our members in sourcing and trading wood products, IWPA has been working closely with industry experts to develop training for wood products compliance procedures to help them meet their responsibilities under the law. Our goal is not another standard or certification scheme, but rather a program to arm those buying and selling wood products with the latest information about resources and procedures that will allow them to tailor a compliance system for their own market niche. IWPA will be testing the new course this October so stay tuned for information about opportunities to participate in a course near you in 2016.