Illegal Christmas tree cutting operation busted in Manitoba, trees donated to Ukrainian refugees – Winnipeg

Illegal Christmas tree cutting operation busted in Manitoba, trees donated to Ukrainian refugees – Winnipeg

A Manitoba Christmas tree seller has been charged after provincial authorities allege he illegally felled his trees on crown land.

Manitoba Natural Resources and Northern Development began the investigation after receiving a tip that trees were being harvested illegally on a Crown land plantation north of Marchand.

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They say conservation officials observed a man removing trees from the plantation last Tuesday.

The suspect, who was charged under the Manitoba Forest Code, told officers he was selling the trees at his shop in Selkirk.

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Officers confiscated 30 black spruce trees and a chainsaw. A further 18 felled but not yet removed trees were confiscated from the plantation.

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A total of 167 trees were felled and removed from the plantation, most of them between 20 and 30 feet tall, with only the tops removed, according to the province.

If convicted, an individual faces a fine of up to $50,000 or up to six months in prison, or both. A company faces fines of up to $250,000 for a first violation. In addition, there will be an obligation to pay provincial forestry fees, the province said in a press release on Tuesday.

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The province says the illegally harvested trees are part of a “valuable proving ground of growing high quality trees for planting in forest regeneration projects in southern Manitoba.”

“The plantation’s missing and damaged trees are a significant loss that negatively impacts long-term sustainable forest management projects in southern Manitoba,” the province said in Tuesday’s release.

The confiscated trees were donated to a Ukrainian church in Winnipeg to distribute to newcomers this holiday season, the province said.

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