Black Hills environmentalist Brian Brademeyer has pleaded guilty to a federal charge of illegally marking trees to be cut in a U.S. Forest Service timber sale.
Brademeyer agreed prior to a proceeding scheduled for Thursday in federal court to pay a $475 fine, plus a $25 processing fee. The maximum penalty for the charge, a federal petty offense, was $5,000 and six months in jail.
Contacted by email Friday, Brademeyer confirmed that he was paying the $500 but did not provide further comment.
Travis Lunders, a regional special agent for the U.S. Forest Service who investigated the case, said Friday that Brademeyer’s plea and the imposed fine were “a satisfactory conclusion to the case.”
A spokesman for the logging industry in the Black Hills didn’t necessarily agree. Tom Troxel, director of the Black Hills Forest Resource Association in Rapid City, said a logging company would almost certainly face harsher penalties if it were caught illegally marking trees in a timber sale.
“Tampering with marked trees in a Forest Service timber sale is a major, major issue,” Troxel said. “It looks like a double standard to me.”
The federal charge alleged that Brademeyer illegally marked 23 trees in the Norbeck Wildlife Preserve near his home so they would be cut in a timber project there. Critics said Brademeyer’s actions in marking the trees for cutting near his home were hypocritical, since he had challenged previous Forest Service timber projects elsewhere.
Brademeyer admitted marking the trees so they would be cut rather than saved, later calling it “stupid but not criminal.” He also contended that he had worked with Forest Service marking crews earlier and thought marking additional trees would be all right.
Brademeyer initially entered a not guilty plea in March before U.S. Magistrate Judge Veronica Duffy. She set the May 17 court date, noting that petty offense cases typically did not result in maximum penalties.
At that time, Brademeyer’s lawyer, Bruce Ellison of Rapid City, said a resolution was possible before the May 17 court date.
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