Introduction of HB1414
before the Resources, Recreation and Development Committee on Tuesday Feb 4 at 11am in LOB Room 302
Thank you Chairman Smith, Vice Chairman Maes and fellow Representatives for the opportunity to speak before you today. I thank you in advance for your kind attention.
For the record, I am Rep. Ken Wells of Andover, and I am here to introduce House Bill 1414, with amendment 2020-0xxxh.
This intent of this bill is to reduce the likelihood of timber trespass or theft, and to make certain that the penalties for negligent or willful incursions onto another’s land are shared fairly among the all parties responsible.
I have given the committee copies of RSA 227-J:8 and J:8a, that specify the civil and criminal penalties for timber trespass or theft. The civil penalty is three to ten times the value of the stumpage cut, and the criminal penalties may include permanent loss of license (and consequent loss of livelihood) and even charges of a Class B felony. This seems to always levy the penalty most heavily on those who are least able to afford it, the loggers.
As the statute is written now, only the people actively working in the woods are held responsible, including the forester, the operator and members of the logging crew. If a landowner or landowner’s agent were to mislead the woodsmen about the location of boundaries, or provide a false map or survey, either willfully or negligently, there is no consequence to them under the statute. Such a person is not subject to the penalties under the statute, even if they are culpable. This strikes me as very unfair.
In the language of the bill as introduced, I first thought to remedy this through an affidavit on the Intent to Cut, and then was advised that it might be more appropriate to address it through the terms of the required contract between the landowner and logger. However, I believe this amendment to the language of the penalty section RSA 227-J:8 and J:8a, to include language such as “...or persons...who cause to be cut…” gives authority to the state forester to direct the penalties in the way most appropriate to the circumstances of a particular case.
This is a fairly simple change to the statute, and I hope I have explained it well. I’m very happy to take your questions.
Ken Wells represents Andover, Danbury and Salisbury in the New Hampshire House of Representatives during the 2018-2020 session.