Damage to Trees

If a tree falls in the woods, someone may not hear it, but somebody might pay for it if that tree was cut on property of another without permission. Michigan has a statute making it a trespass to remove trees from the land of another. MCL 600.2919 states:

Any person who:

(a) cuts down or carries off any wood, underwood, trees, or timber or despoils or injures any trees on another’s lands, …without the permission of the owner of the lands, or on the lands or commons of any city, township, village, or other public corporation without license to do so, is liable to the owner of the land or the public corporation for 3 times the amount of actual damages.

Treble damages apply when the trespass is willful as opposed to casual or involuntary. If a person knows where the property line is, or it is visibly marked, and one enters anyways without the owner’s permission, that trespass is willful.

In the process of removing larger trees, many smaller ones can be damaged. In Skeels v Starrett, 57 Mich 350, 354 (1885) the court held where the action was for wrongful cutting, and it was alleged that removal of timber injured the remaining timber, the value of the remaining timber was also an element of damages.

In addition to cleanup of the property being a compensable damage, it is subject to trebling. The court in Miller v Wykoff, 346 Mich 24, 26-27(1956) stated that damages subject to trebling could also include cleanup costs to remove the tree tops, debris and fill in the stump holes on the property that was logged.

All things considered; it would seem to be a lot less expensive to get one’s wood supply from a local lumber yard than an unwilling land owner.