Woman indicted in Tahoe tree cutting

RENO, Nev. - A woman has been indicted on charges alleging she had three large trees up to a century old cut down on sensitive federal land near Lake Tahoe to improve her view, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Officials said they weren't aware of any similar federal prosecutions.

Patricia M. Vincent, 58, was indicted last week on charges of theft of government property and willingly damaging government property. If convicted, she faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count.

The three ponderosa pines stood on a plot the U.S. Forest Service had designated as environmentally sensitive as part of a water quality plan to help protect the clarity of Lake Tahoe. The trees were estimated at 80 to 100 years old; trees that age would be at least 2 feet in diameter at the base of the trunk.

"It is important that public lands, which are held in trust for the benefit of all citizens, are appropriately protected by our land management agencies," U.S. Attorney Gregory Brower said in a news release. "Individuals who unlawfully encroach on these lands and cause damage will be prosecuted."

Forest Service spokesman Rex Norman said there have been other cases of trees being cut down illegally on national forest land in the Tahoe Basin but he was not aware of any similar federal prosecution. Natalie Collins, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney in Las Vegas, said she also did not recall any similar prosecution.

The indictment accuses Vincent of hiring a commercial tree removal business in April to cut down the trees to enhance her view in Incline Village, one of the wealthiest towns on the shore of the mountain resort lake.

The damage exceeded $10,000, the indictment said.
The State Parks and State Forest in my local have a somewhat loose way of distinguishing their lands from ours. Sometimes a wire fence. Mostly rusty sign tacked on a tree every few hundred yards is good enough in most cases. The property lines are not always straight between the signs. They jog in and out sometimes.

The property owners are usually aware of the location. We've done removals on State Forest and Park lands where trees have been a hazard to private property, homes, powerlines, roads. In most instances we get permission from the parks or state forest first, but sometimes there's no time to wait for approval and we have to act fast. Never have seen the threat of prosecution from the emergency scenarios. Most of the gov personal are sympathetic, but there have been similiar cases here as to the Gal in Tahoe cutting for a view.

And the Parks and Forest service is hot to trot in those cases.
Odd though she is on the Tahoe, which is a National Forest. Thats public land,Land of many uses and all that. Seems though there would a have been a permit process she could have gone through. Tahoe is not known for sound management though. The old bird should have gotten a lawyer first. I wonder if they are hitting her with timber theft?
I would think that the tree company might have an out by saying they thought the trees were on her property. The Tahoe Basin is having trouble with silt getting into Lake Tahoe so the agencies in the area are doing everything possible to discourage disturbing dirt and if they do they have to have a plan to keep the silt on site if it rains.