OLYMPIA, WA - A 330-year-old Douglas fir was among 102 trees that a Brinnon, WA, man pleaded guilty to stealing or damaging from the Olympic National Forest and was sentenced to one year in jail.

Timber Thief Pleads Guilty to Cutting Down 330-Year-Old TreeAccording to the U.S. Department of Forestry, Reid Johnston, 41, has been convicted of stealing timber and damaging trees worth more than $250,000 from federal forests in Washington state. The Forest Service began its investigation in January 2008, revealing that Johnston harvested trees from national forests adjacent to property owned by his parents in the Rocky Brook area of Olympic National Forest.

Among the trees Johnston admitted to chopping down was an 8-foot-diameter Douglas fir estimated at 330 years old that Forest Service researchers called "essentially irreplaceable." In addition, Johnston cut down maple trees and processed them into blocks sold for making guitars, cellos and other musical instruments.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Diggs said, “The true value of these resources cannot be measured by board feet or the number of maple blocks or fir logs to be harvested from each tree, The magnitude of the loss can fairly be analogized to losing a national antiquity or cultural heritage resource. … The defendant’s greed robbed our region of one of its most precious resources – trees which will take centuries to return.”

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