By Associated Press - Thursday, January 30, 2020

LUCAS, Iowa (AP) - A judge has ordered a lumber company to pay the state nearly $28,000 for timber harvested without permission from a state forest in south-central Iowa.

The attorney general’s office also said in a news release Thursday that Moravia Hardwoods, of Moravia, lied to the state on a bond renewal application. The judge banned the company from buying timber from anyone for a year. A company representative said he couldn’t immediately comment.

Private landowners sold to Moravia Hardwoods in late 2013 the rights to harvest timber on their property, which abuts the Chariton Unit of Stephens State Forest. Moravia Hardwoods marked the trees it wanted, the attorney general’s office said, and then directed loggers to cut the trees.

But one of the loggers testified at the trial that the marked trees he was cutting were on state land. He said he informed Moravia.

A forestry expert found that 131 trees, mostly white and red oak and black walnut, were cut in the state forest. Their value was estimated at $25,718.50.

The attorney general’s office sued Moravia Hardwoods and its owners, alleging they’d willfully removed the trees. The trial was held in August, and the judge issued the ruling Monday.

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