When you buy a wreath made from fresh greenery, you probably don’t give much thought to where those evergreen boughs came from. A tree somewhere: what else is there to know? It turns out that it’s possible to poach tree branches, and tree-tipping, as it’s called, is a thriving illicit industry in the forests of Maine.
The New York Times followed around some legal bough-cutters to learn about the business, as well as the forest rangers who scan forests for tire tracks and signs that pine-rustlers have stopped by. The crime itself is simple and lucrative: snap off branches measuring between a foot and a foot and a half. Sell them to an independent wreath-maker who doesn’t ask questions and who is probably also just trying to get by in a remote and impoverished area of Maine.
If you find the right buyer, evergreen branches can sell for fifty cents a pound. That might not seem like a lot, but imagine how much money that would be for a whole pickup truck bed full of boughs. Legit tippers exist, and they usually pay landowners for the right to harvest boughs.
Tree Tipping Generates Cash and Seasonal Woes in Maine [New York Times]
by Laura Northrup via Consumerist