Is this stealing? (downed trees on park district property)

My wife and I were walking the twins through a nearby park, and noticed that the park service had recently cut down several trees, and left them lying around in convenient 24" chunks. I don’t know what the park district does with them (throws them away, grinds them into mulch, whatever) but they would make damned fine firewood if I split them and season them for a year or so. Is it stealing if I take some of this wood home with me? It’s not mine, but its not like I’m defacing park property or damaging anything. As it is, I would only take a small fraction of what’s there.

Does the wood belong to you?
Do you have permission to take it?

If the answers to these questions are “no” then yes, it’s stealing. Call the Parks Dept and ask.

I don’t think its as clear-cut as that. My understanding is that the courts have ruled that trash ceases to be yours once its placed out on the street; clearly I can take something out of a trash can in the park without asking anyones permission. The question then becomes, are downed trees trash? I think it could be argued that they are.

Anyway, I called, and after only 6 phone calls I contacted the chief arborist who not only told me to take as much as I want, but helpfully pointed out other locations where his crews had cut down more trees. Winter after next I’ll have all the firewood I can use!

It pays to ask, doesn’t it? I cut downed trees for several years from a compound on a former Air Force Base. I had permission from the tenant and they were thrilled to have someone remove them for free.

Sometimes park officials will leave downed trees to rot to provide homes for forest-dwellers, and contribute to the natural life cycle of the forest. I dimly remember from my “Sustaining the Earth” class that conservationists have recently found that forests with rotting logs are healthier than those without. Parks used to try to take all downed trees out of forests, and now they are starting to leave them.

So, without knowing why they are leaving the logs there, it is probably not good to take them. Call them and ask.

Oops! Sorry, didn’t read your post #3!

I noticed your location - I’m Baltimore County, and a friend of my husband’s works for the county doing various maintenance (roadwork, plowing, etc.). When they have downed trees, they haul them back to the county shop and eventually mulch them up and take it to the landfill. :eek:
This friend calls my husband and he is allowed to go to the shop with his splitter and split whatever he wants for firewood. We get quite a lot of firewood that way.
It’s a good thing you called and asked - most likely the wood would have been mulched and dumped. What a waste.

If they are elm, it’s possible that they were felled due to Dutch Elm Disease, in which case, they don’t want you toting the infected chunks around town. What kind of tree is it?

If they were felled due to Dutch elm Disease, or Asian Longhorn Beetle, or other infectious or otherwise dangerous material, the parks people will remove and burn it. We have had sever losses from DED and the Asian beetle in my area and I’ve confirmed this with a friend of mine who owns an arborist company.