Skip to main content

Northern MN man accused of cutting down, stealing $3,500 worth of trees

The white-barked trees are often used in decorations.

Birch trees have been disappearing from northern Minnesota and Wisconsin, and now a St. Louis County man is being charged with stealing at least some of them.

Officials say 40-year-old David Lawrence chopped down and took 1,200 birch trees from state land. That's $3,411 worth.

According to the criminal complaint:

A conservation officer came across a pile of birch trees in March and saw two men chopping down more. The men said Lawrence of Aurora had left the pile of trees there.

When officials reached out to Lawrence, he admitted to spending the last three days cutting down trees there. Lawrence said he left about 100 birch trees on the ground, and explained he sells the wood to a guy in Wisconsin.

A few days later, Minnesota State Forestry workers surveyed the area and discovered about 1,200 birch trees had been cut down on state land. And Lawrence apparently didn't have a permit to do that.

The 40-year-old is being charged with cutting down timber on state land. It's a gross misdemeanor charge. If he's proven guilty, Lawrence could spend a year in jail, and/or pay a $3,000 fee.

Department of Natural Resources officials tell the Star Tribune the two other men who were cutting down trees with Lawrence were not charged because they're American Indian and are protected by a treaty made in the 1850s.

Birch tree thieves have been a problem

This isn't the first time officials have noticed missing birch trees.

Back in February, the Washburn County Sheriff's Office in northwestern Wisconsin announced that it was looking for some birch tree bandits.

According to the Facebook post, trees had been disappearing all across the county – on state and county land, as well as private property.

The Star Tribune previously reported similar incidents in Minnesota.

Most of the trees cut have been pretty small, so officials believe the bandits are selling the white-barked trees for decoration.

Next Up

IceCube

Ice Cube to perform 2 nights at Mystic Lake Casino

The rapper hasn't performed in Minnesota since 2018.

image

Nicollet Mall's new Ties Lounge & Rooftop closes 'indefinitely'

The establishment aimed to reconnect the downtown community.

Screen Shot 2022-12-01 at 9.15.44 AM

Chinese restaurant closing after 50 years in Columbia Heights

The beloved family-owned restaurant will close Dec. 24.

Screen Shot 2022-12-01 at 9.43.40 AM

Kris Laudien leaving KARE 11 after four years on 'Sunrise'

KARE 11 announced the appointment of Jason Hackett to the morning show this week.

covid

MN's COVID update for the week ending Tuesday, Nov. 29

There are now more than 570 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Minnesota.

MNAPresser12122

Twin Cities nurses to strike for 20 days starting Dec. 11

A strike in Duluth and Two Harbors doesn't have an end date set.

WELYRadio

New owners to take over long-running Ely radio station

WELY will go off the air temporarily starting Thursday, pending the sale.

Screen Shot 2022-06-23 at 12.35.25 PM

Minneapolis man gets 10 years for death threats against Hennepin Co. employees

Peter Robert Berry, 60, was sentenced in U.S. District Court Wednesday.

PrinsburgGoogle

Rural MN town to consider ordinance allowing lawsuits against abortion providers

Attorney General Keith Ellison said the ordinance would violate the state constitution.

unnamed

Hope Breakfast Bar owners plan new location in Eagan

The Eagan restaurant plans feature an outdoor patio.

Related

Several trees have been vandalized in Robbinsdale

If you see someone doing this, call 911.

More thieves steal birch trees in Minnesota, but why are they doing it?

Thousands of the trees have been chopped down illegally across the upper Midwest in recent months.

Someone's been vandalizing trees in Dakota County

It's called girdling or ring-barking, and it kills trees.

Minnesota is on pace to quadruple its solar energy capacity this year

In the first three months of 2017, Minnesota's doubled the solar capacity it had last year.

Feds will give MN $350M to protect lakes, rivers, and groundwater

Dayton says more than 40 percent of the state's waters are impaired or polluted.

Video: Remember Minneapolis' plastic bag ban? What exactly happened with that?

That plastic bag ban never happened ... what's with that?

Bye, November – you were a hot one for us northerners

This November has been one of the warmest on record.