2 Accused of Illegally Cutting Nearly 2,000 Trees

Posted at: 11/15/2013 12:16 PM | Updated at: 11/15/2013 3:14 PM

Two people are accused of cutting nearly 2,000 tree tops on county-administered state lands near Toivola with plans to sell them in southern Minnesota.

Steven George Morterud, 22, and Tara Lynn Herrick, 23, face charges of theft of timber and trespassing.  In addition, Morterud is accused of violating an order for protection of Herrick after a domestic violence conviction earlier this year.

A county employee informed a DNR Conservation Officer about spruce tree tops being cut at the site on Nov. 7.  According to a criminal complaint, the officer went to the site that day and found bundles of cut spruce tree tops on private land that had "obviously" been cut from the adjacent county-administered land.

The offer returned the next day and allegedly found Morterud and Herrick working with bundles of spruce tree tops.

A criminal complaint accuses the two of cutting 1,970 spruce tree tops without a permit.  The complaint says the total value of the trees would have been $11,820 if they had been sold in Rochester as planned, according to prices provided by Herrick.

Morterud and Herrick were booked into the St. Louis County Jail but have since been released.

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