Sickening. Kevin John Moran of Camano Island, Wash., was just convicted of illegally cutting down 27 old-growth cedars on public land. They were between 400 and 700 years old. And they were dry-side trees, even rarer than the Northwest’s west-slope titans.

But here’s the worst that can happen to him:

Theft of government property is a Class C felony, which means a maximum sentence of 10 years or less, and a fine not to exceed $250,000.

All donations matched! Reader support helps sustain our work. Donate today to keep our climate news free.

Some of these trees were mature giants long before Europeans ever encountered the Pacific Northwest. They were protected on public land. They were our natural heritage.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

But destroying them? That’s just "theft of government property."

Sentencing is in February.