Timber trespass settled for $67,000

Posted May 26, 2010, at 8:57 p.m.

MACHIAS, Maine — A Steuben landowner was granted $67,000 in restitution Wednesday in Washington County District Court as payment for almost 18 acres of timber taken illegally from her property.

JoAnne Woodworth, who was raised in Gouldsboro and lives in Sarasota, Fla., had planned to build a cabin and retire on the property, but told the court the damage done by licensed forester Paul Gaddis of East Machias had “ruined that dream.”

Assistant District Attorney Katherine Lindberg said Woodworth will receive 100 percent of the value of the timber in accordance with Judge John V. Romei’s order Wednesday.

Gaddis pleaded guilty to civil charges of unlawful cutting of trees and failing to clearly mark property lines. He was the one who actually marked the area to be cut.

A dozen similar charges are pending against harvester David Crane of Lamoine, who Gaddis hired to do the actual cutting, according to Lindberg.

Woodworth was paid $5,000 immediately and Gaddis must pay $500 a month until the debt is cleared.

“It’s not the money,” Woodworth said after the court proceeding. “It’s about keeping these people out of the woods.”

The Maine Forest Service alerted Woodworth to the possible timber trespass in December 2008 when a ranger caught Gaddis cutting on Woodworth’s property. Gaddis had no permission to cut there, Woodworth said, adding that her property was marked with “no trespassing” signs and orange markers on border trees.

“Over half of my land has been stripped of trees and there are deep ruts in the earth which will require major excavation to bring the land back,” Woodworth said. “Mr. Gaddis raped and destroyed my property. It is lost to me.”

Woodworth flew to Maine from Florida to attend Wednesday’s hearing and said she will return when Crane appears in court.

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