Park official: Skagit poachers chopping trees for drug money

"It's just a total waste. It should make everyone angry."

The trees are dying in Skagit County's Sauk River Park, not from disease but from chainsaws.

Dozens of firs, hemlocks and cedars, some upwards of 150 years old, have been cut down by poachers.

"I've never seen it this bad. It's out of control," said Park Supervisor Rusty Regan. "It's a crying shame that somebody comes and cuts down beautiful stuff like this."

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At least 30 trees have been cut in Sauk River Park since November alone. Another 20 have been felled on nearby state forest land. It's all public property between Darrington and Rockport where people camp, fish and hike.

"When they're poaching the public land, they're stealing from all of us," said Skagit County Park Director Brian Adams. "This is a beautiful place where people want to come to be amongst the trees not a minefield of stumps."

Some of the cuts appear to have been done by amateurs, others by someone with experience. They leave behind empty jugs of oil for their chain saws and other garbage.

Authorities believe the groups doing this are likely selling the trees as fire wood to fuel their drug habits. A cord of wood can fetch $300 to $500.

"It's just a total waste," said Regan. "It should make everyone angry."

Authorities say they plan to install camouflaged cameras to catch the cutters before any more damage can be done.