Enforcing criminal laws pertaining to the protection of forest woodlands
The Forestry Enforcement Division is responsible for enforcing criminal laws pertaining to the protection of forest woodlands such as, but not limited to arson and timber theft.
Forestry enforcement officers are commissioned by the State Forester as per LA.RS 3.4274.1 and are vested with the same authority and powers conferred by law upon regular law enforcement officers of this state. They also shall have primary responsibility for the collection, preparation, and central registry of information relating to theft of timber and shall assist all law enforcement agencies in investigations of timber theft violations throughout Louisiana.
Enforcement officers are also authorized to audit records of timber harvesters and facilities that receive forest products to ensure compliance with civil statutes regulating the harvesting and receiving of timber products.
Enforcement officers work closely with timberland owners to educate, counsel and direct them in the protection of their timber resources and legal options in pursuing settlements or criminal court actions. Prevention and education activities include presentations, public contact programs and media projects. All activities are designed to promote public awareness and participation in the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry’s effort to reduce all forestry related crimes.
Laws and tracking
During a 42 day period 1952, more than 5000 forest fires burned a ¼ million acres of forest land in Louisiana.
Determining the extent of the damage caused by these fires was a big task so State Forester James Mixon, the Louisiana Forestry Commission and Louisiana Forestry Association created the Forestry Enforcement Division on November 11, 1952. The fledgling Forestry Enforcement Division was comprised of seven men, including the chief investigator.
As a result of the new enforcement team’s work, the arson squad investigated 464 fires, made 215 arrest for arson and criminal negligence in 1954 resulting in 181 convictions.
The enforcement division of the Office of Forestry within the Department of Agriculture and Forestry shall have primary responsibility for collection, preparation, and central registry of information relating to theft of timber and shall assist all law enforcement agencies in investigations of violations.
The Forestry Enforcement Division may assist the public in a limited capacity regarding complaints of timber theft that are not criminally related.
Due to the difficulty in tracking harvested timber and the increased complaints of timber theft in Louisiana, the authority to establish Rules and Regulations regarding timber harvesting was given to the LDAF by the state legislature to help deter timber theft.