New York Consolidated Laws, Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law - RPA § 861. Action for cutting, removing, injuring or destroying trees or timber, and damaging lands thereon

1. If any person, without the consent of the owner thereof, cuts, removes, injures or destroys, or causes to be cut, removed, injured or destroyed, any underwood, tree or timber on the land of another or on the common or other land of a city, village, town or county, or damages the land in the course thereof, an action may be maintained against such person for treble the stumpage value of the tree or timber or two hundred fifty dollars per tree, or both and for any permanent and substantial damage caused to the land or the improvements thereon as a result of such violation.  Such reparations shall be of such kind, nature and extent as will reasonably restore the lands affected by the violation to their condition immediately before the violation and may be made by physical restoration of such lands and/or by the assessment of monetary payment to make such restoration.

2. In any action brought pursuant to subdivision one of this section, if the defendant establishes by clear and convincing evidence, that when the defendant committed the violation, he or she had cause to believe the land was his or her own, or that he or she had an easement or right of way across such land which permitted such action, or he or she had a legal right to harvest such land, then he or she shall be liable for the stumpage value or two hundred fifty dollars per tree, or both and reasonable costs associated with maintaining an action pursuant to this section.  In such case, the defendant shall also be liable for any permanent and substantial damage caused to the land or the improvements thereon as a result of such violation.  Such reparations shall be of such kind, nature and extent as will reasonably restore the lands affected by the violation to their condition immediately before the violation and may be made by physical restoration of such lands and/or by the assessment of monetary payment to make such restoration.

3. For the purposes of this section “stumpage value” shall mean the current fair market value of a tree as it stands prior to the time of sale, cutting, or removal.  Stumpage value shall be determined by one or more of the following methods:  the sale price of the tree in an arm's-length sale, a review of solicited bids, the stumpage price report prepared by the department of environmental conservation, comparison with like sales on trees on state or private lands, or other appropriate means to assure that a fair market value is established within an acceptable range based on the appropriate geographic area.


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