Three incense cedar trees were resting on the edge of a pond where they had been presumedly thrown Tuesday night or Wednesday early morning, the water still. The trunks showed a clean cut from a handsaw halfway through before the tree had been snapped off from what would become a stump.
Robert Deitz has come to a conclusion of how the trees were felled, but has no concrete idea of why. About 20 incense cedars were cut down across a 1500-foot stretch next to Lotus Road on his property, trees he has spent the last 23 years growing.
Every year, he would choose appropriately-sized trees to decorate with lights, helping motorists navigate the dark turns at night on Lotus Road and spreading holiday cheer. “I’d get like 10 notes in my mailbox saying thank you,” he said.
Now, however, the lights are strewn across the ground near the stumps of the trees. “I came out at 10 p.m. (Tuesday) and noticed the lights were unplugged. I grabbed a flashlight and plugged them back in. By 8 a.m., they were gone,” Deitz said. “They literally took the lights off and stole them.”
Some trees were just feet from where they had grown, strewn about the slope from Lotus Road down to a large pathway on Deitz’ property. Another was at the edge of a stream and still more were at the pond. “Over the years, I’ve sunk Christmas trees for fish habitats,” Deitz said of the pond. “Now I’ve got a lot of them.”
The trees, he said, were good for the environment, cutting down noise from the road onto his property and reducing smog. They provided a barrier to the ponds, often used for fishing or swimming by locals and Cub Scouts, Deitz said.
Deitz had spend thousands of hours growing the trees, he said, sometimes hand-watering the trees two or three times a day during the summer, despite the drip line he put in 15 years ago. He noted the trees are hard to grow, but are native to the area, with these trees having come from Grass Valley and Pollock Pines.
The only trouble he has had in the past is a Christmas tree per year for the past five years being cut down, he said. But that pales in comparison to every incense cedar — including one only a few feet tall — being cut down, leaving all the other trees on the way still standing. “They did it just to cut it down, just to be malicious,” he said, pointing to a tree stump.
He came to the conclusion that it was at least two people with a handsaw, as a chainsaw would be too loud and wake people up. They likely had a truck that they filled with trees they had cut, leaving all the others. They had to be strong, he said, as they threw them into the stream and pond.
Deitz filed a report with authorities over the theft and took it upon himself to search local Christmas tree farms to see if any were selling his trees. The only farm that was selling incense cedars, he said, was not only run by a friend of his from his search and rescue volunteer days, but required the trees to be cut on-site, with no pre-cut trees available. He noted the trees don’t make great Christmas trees, he said, “but some people like the smell.”
Deitz is offering a $500 reward for information leading to the culprits. “Whoever did this, I want them off the streets,” he said. Deitz can be reached at 530-621-3779 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.