Code of Virginia

Code of Virginia
Title 55.1. Property and Conveyances
10/22/2020

Article 8. Cutting Timber.

§ 55.1-2835. Damages recoverable for timber cutting.

If any person, firm, or corporation encroaches and cuts timber, except when acting prudently and under bona fide claim of right, the owner of such timber shall, in addition to all other remedies afforded by law, have the benefit of a right to, and a summary remedy for recovery of, damages in an amount as specified in this article and recovered as provided for in this article.

If the trespass is proven, the defendant shall have the burden of proving that he acted prudently and under a bona fide claim of right.

Code 1950, § 8-906; 1952, c. 658; 1968, c. 251; 1977, c. 624, § 55-331; 1993, c. 580; 2004, cc. 604, 615; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2836. Procedure for determination of damage.

A. The owner of the land on which a trespass as described in § 55.1-2835 was committed shall have the right, within 90 days after the discovery of such trespass and the identity of the trespasser, to notify the trespasser and to appoint an experienced timber estimator to determine the amount of damages. For the purposes of determining damages, the value of the timber cut shall be calculated by first determining the value of the timber on the stump. Within 30 days after receiving notice of the alleged trespass and of the appointment of such estimator, the alleged trespasser, if he does not deny the fact of trespass, shall appoint an experienced timber estimator to participate with the one already so appointed in the estimation of damages. If the two estimators cannot agree, they shall select a third person, experienced and disinterested, who shall make a decision that shall be final and conclusive and not subject to appeal. The estimation of damages and the rendition of statement must be effected within 30 days from the receipt of notice of appointment, by the trespasser, of an estimator.

If the alleged trespasser fails to appoint an estimator within the prescribed time, or to notify within such time that the allegation of the fact of trespass is disputed, the estimator appointed by the injured party may make an estimate, and collection or recovery may be had accordingly.

B. Any person who (i) severs or removes any timber from the land of another without legal right or permission or (ii) authorizes or directs the severing or removal of timber or trees from the land of another without legal right or permission shall be liable to pay to the rightful owner of the timber three times the value of the timber on the stump and shall pay to the rightful owner of the property the reforestation costs incurred not to exceed $450 per acre, the costs of ascertaining the value of the timber, any directly associated legal costs, and reasonable attorney fees incurred by the owner of the timber as a result of the trespass.

Code 1950, § 8-907; 1977, c. 624, § 55-332; 1987, c. 105; 2004, cc. 604, 615; 2016, cc. 245, 562; 2019, cc. 348, 353, 712.

§ 55.1-2837. When person damaged may proceed in court.

If the amount specified in subsection B of § 55.1-2836 is not paid within 30 days after rendition of statement, the person upon whose land the trespass occurred may proceed for judgment in the amount of payment as specified in § 55.1-2836.

If upon receiving notice of the alleged trespass and of the appointment of an estimator, the person so receiving notice does not admit the fact of trespass, he may decline to appoint an estimator and notify the other party to such effect, together with his reason for refusing to appoint an estimator, and in such case the aggrieved party may proceed in the appropriate court.

Code 1950, § 8-909; 1968, c. 251; 1977, c. 624, § 55-334; 2004, cc. 604, 615; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2838. Larceny of timber; penalty.

A. Any person who knowingly and willfully takes, steals, and removes from the lands of another any timber growing, standing, or lying on the lands is guilty of larceny. Any person so convicted shall be ordered to pay restitution calculated pursuant to § 55.1-2836.

B. In a criminal prosecution pursuant to subsection A, it shall be prima facie evidence of the intent to steal the timber if the timber was harvested or removed from property marked with readily visible paint marks not more than 100 feet apart on trees or posts along the property line, where the paint marks were vertical lines at least two inches in width and at least eight inches in length and the center of the mark was not less than three feet nor more than six feet from the ground or normal water surface.

2004, cc. 604, 615, § 55-334.1; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2839. Larceny of timber; failure to remit payment to owner; penalty.

A. Any person who buys timber directly from the owner of the land on which the timber is grown shall make payment in full to the owner by the date specified in the written timber sales agreement or, if there is no such written agreement, within 60 days from the date that the buyer removes the timber from the property.

B. Any person who, without the consent of the seller, fails to make payment in full within the time period established by subsection A is guilty of timber theft, which is punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor, and shall be ordered to pay restitution equal to three times the value of the timber established in the timber sale agreement, whether written or oral, in addition to any penalties imposed by the court.

C. No person shall be prosecuted under this section if he remits payment in full within the time period established by subsection A or D to a person he believes in good faith to be the rightful owner of the timber.

D. An owner of land who does not receive payment in full within the time period established in subsection A may notify the timber buyer in writing of his demand for payment at such buyer's last known address by certified mail or by personal delivery. The timber buyer's failure to make payment in full within 10 days after such mailing or personal delivery shall constitute prima facie evidence of such buyer's intent to violate the provisions of subsection A. However, no person who remits payment in full within 10 days after such demand for payment shall be prosecuted for violating the provisions of subsection A, notwithstanding his failure to remit payment in full within the time period established in subsection A.

2019, cc. 348, 353, § 55-334.2.

§ 55.1-2840. Load tickets required for certain sales of timber; penalty.

A. Whenever a timber buyer acquires timber and the load is sold by weight, cord, or measure of board feet, such buyer shall, upon request of the owner of the land from which the timber is removed, furnish such landowner within 30 days of the request or 30 days from the date that the timber is removed, whichever is later, a true and accurate accounting of each load removed from the property related to the sale.

Such accounting shall include all supporting documentation, such as load tickets or settlement statements provided to the timber buyer by the facility receiving, weighing, scaling, or measuring the trees, timber, or wood, and shall contain, at a minimum, (i) the name of the facility receiving, weighing, scaling, or measuring the trees, timber, or wood; (ii) the date the trees, timber, or wood was received at the facility; (iii) the name of the producer or logging company; (iv) the type of wood; (v) the type of product; (vi) the weight or scale information, including the total volume if the load is measured by scale, or the gross and tare, or net weights, if the load is measured by weight; and (vii) the weight, scale, or amount of wood deducted and the deduction classification.

B. No load ticket or settlement report shall be required to include price or market value information unless the timber sales agreement, whether written or oral, stipulates that the landowner is to be paid based on a share of the value of the timber removed.

C. Any person who fails to provide the information required by this section, or who knowingly provides false information, is guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor.

2019, cc. 348, 353, § 55-334.3.

§ 55.1-2841. Effect of article.

Nothing in this article shall have the effect of precluding any compromise or agreed settlement that the parties in dispute may effect as to the civil remedies provided by this article, nor of barring any other remedy provided for by law.

Code 1950, § 8-910; 1977, c. 624, § 55-335; 2019, c. 712.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of these sections may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.

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