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Rangers at California's Redwood National and State Park are now taking desperate measures to stop poachers from dismembering coastal redwoods to support, among other things, their drug addictions.
The rangers say they've had to close areas of the park from sunset to sunrise and increase their patrols to prevent criminals, mostly drug users, from poaching the legendary trees. (Via KTVU)
With increased frequency, poachers have been sneaking into the park at night on ATVs and hacking off redwood burls — large, knotted pieces of wood that protrude from the trees' trunks. (Via Fox News)
Rangers say many of those they've caught committing the crime, which could amount to a felony, were selling desirable redwood pieces as a way to support their drug habits.
One park ranger told Digital Journal: "When I interview suspects, that is the (reason) they say: their addiction to drugs and they can't find jobs."
Ninety-five percent of the redwood tree population has been cut down over the last 150 years, the remaining 5 percent is now protected in state parks.
The Huffington Post explains redwood burls are valuable because they're large enough to build tables and other pieces of furniture. California's coastal redwoods in particular are "prized for their beauty, age and size."
The trees can live to be thousands of years old, grow more than 350 feet tall and are also fire resistant. Recent studies also suggest they're the best trees at capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. (ViaYouTube / Steven Poe)
That makes them invaluable in the battle against climate change. Redwood burls are desired for their marbled appearance, and can sell for as much as $3 a pound.