Mar. 16—A Londonderry man accused of cutting timber illegally at a Vermont state park is being sued by the Green Mountain State, officials announced Monday.
Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan announced the state filed a civil lawsuit in Orleans County Superior Court for timber trespass at Hazen's Notch State Park against Thomas Tremonte, a Londonderry resident who owns property in Westfield, Vt., abutting the state park.
In the lawsuit, the state alleges that Tremonte cleared parts of state land during and prior to 2019 without approval.
According to the lawsuit, Tremonte told investigators the trees were cleared for the purpose of backcountry skiing, but admitted he may have cut too far and crossed over from his land into the park.
Court documents show Vermont state foresters reported 839 trees and shrubs on state land were cut without permission.
"Cutting down trees on public land for private use is a violation of the law that comes at a cost to Vermonters and our environment," Donovan said in a statement. "It is incumbent on all of us to protect and responsibly utilize Vermont's natural resources, including our state parks."
Officials were notified of the cutting when a visitor to Hazen's Notch State Park reported hearing the buzz of chainsaws in the area, which the state has owned since 1946, according to court documents. Officials report Tremonte purchased his Westfield property in 2017.
"We're grateful to the person who reported this incident to our department and we rely on the public to notify us when they notice anything of concern in Vermont's state forests and state parks," Vermont Forest and Parks Commissioner Michael Snyder said in a statement. "These public lands are to be enjoyed by all — including for backcountry recreation — and also provide important natural habitat. When individuals conduct unauthorized cutting of trees for private benefit, they encroach on the public benefits of state lands available to everyone."
According to court documents, Vermont officials reported finding evidence of fresh cut trees in a 300-400 foot wide swath about 400 yards from Route 58. Counting the stumps, foresters discovered 839 trees had been removed from the area without the permission of the Department of Forest and parks.
In addition to the value of the timber, Tremonte could be held financially liable for Vermont's legal fees and any other civil damages the court sees fit.
A portion of Hazen's Notch State Park is a designated natural area due to cliffs of serpentine rock that support rare plant species. Historically and in recent years, peregrine falcons have also nested at the site.