TACOMA, Wash. - The U.S. attorney's office says a 41-year-old Brinnon man has been sentenced to a year in prison for stealing more than $70,000 worth of timber from the Olympic National Forest, including one tree estimated to be more than 300 years old.
Reid Johnston was sentenced Friday in federal court in Tacoma. Government prosecutors estimate Johnston stole or damaged about 100 trees, many of them old growth timber in a protected habitat area.
He earlier pleaded guilty to thefts of fir, cedar and maple trees between May 2009 and January 2010.
One large Douglas fir log had a trunk that was about 7 feet in diameter. The tree was estimated to be more than 300 years old. The maple was cut into blocks and sold for the production of musical instruments such as cellos and guitars.
In asking for a 15-month prison sentence prosecutors wrote to the court, Stands of old growth trees, such as those damaged in this case, entail a unique forest ecosystem, the significance of which reaches far beyond the individual trees damaged. For example, the stand of trees damaged is designated as Marbled Murrelet Critical Habitat by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Many of the trees cut by the defendant were old growth, including at least one Douglas fir tree estimated to be over 300 years old. Simply put, the property stolen and damaged in this case will not be replaced for years to come, if ever.
A restitution hearing is planned in January.