Most of the forestland in South Carolina is privately owned and harvested timber is a hot commodity in the state–which can also attracts some sketchy deals.
One such deal resulted in an arrest of a timber harvester in North Carolina, who is arrested and charged with bilking about $40,000 from a couple who have land in Dillon. He sought them out to make a deal.
The SC Forestry Commission’s Law Enforcement Chief David West says Irby Anthony Fields of Luberton, North Carolina allegedly only paid a little of what he owed the family.
He followed up on the complaint and tracked the wood through the mills, to discover that Fields allegedly would keep three loads and pay them for one.
This is an important lesson, says West, because timber buyer are shopping heavily in the state:
“Wood buyers are just like everybody else,. They’re beating the bushes to try to make a living, and they are digging deep to try to find different stuff. It’s nothing unusual for somebody to try to solicit you on the telephone, or send you a letter or a postcard. It’s all legal,” says West.
Forest-related industries a high-paying sector of our state’s economy with a $17.4 billion impact on the SC economy each year.
The Forestry Commission can protect timber land owners in the state.
Foresters with the South Carolina Forestry Commission urge landowners to have a forester from a private consulting firm or from the commission assess their land before selling timber. Tips for landowners and lists of consultants can be obtained by calling your local Forestry Commission office or by visiting www.tree.sc.gov.
Mr. Fields is out on bond, pending trial. West says there may be more landowners with complaints against Mr. Fields across South Carolina.