Last week, Georgia Department of Natural Resources Officer Jeff Phillips charged James Andrew Armstrong, 30, and Natasha Nicole Armstrong, 28, of 578 Betts Mill Road for theft by taking. It appears they were in the business of deadhead logging, which is severely restricted and by permit only.
Recently DNR officers spotted a recovered log that had been dropped on the bank of Spring Creek at the Brinson Bridge, off Highway 84 west. They also spotted a boat with a winch on board, apparently set up for the recovery of logs from the bottom of Spring Creek.
DNR officers set up surveillance and last week discovered the Armstrongs harvesting the log in the picture above. Sheriff's Deputies responded and made the arrest.
According to the DNR, during the 1800's and early 1900's, the rafting of commercially harvested logs down Georgia's rivers and streams was a common practice for transporting timber to coastal markets. It is estimated that approximately five percent of these logs sank to the bottom, resulting in sunken commercially harvested logs located on the bottom of Georgia’s rivers.
The sunken logs, from trees often a century old or older, have different wood characteristics than modern lumber, and are considered extremely valuable.
Recovered old growth logs are used for unique wood flooring and paneling, and other specialty products. The salvage of this these old growth logs are often called deadhead logging. DNR requires a $10,000 annual permit fee for each two-mile segment of a river and additional compensation to DNR, presently set at $1.28/board foot, and is allowed from the Flint and Altamaha rivers.
According to an AJC 2006 article,
loggers say the prices are exorbitant but environmentalists are pleased that there is little to no participation. The AJC writes
Warren C. Budd Jr. of Newnan, a DNR board member who chairs the Historic Preservation Committee, said Georgia prices must be set to recoup the expenses. One difficulty, though, is that no one knows how many logs are at the bottom of the rivers.
"If we charge less, it means the people of Georgia are subsidizing the program. No. 1, it's not constitutional, and No. 2, it's not good business," Budd said. "If nobody wants to bid on it, leave the logs where they are. We're not in business to guarantee these loggers a living."