McCall Man Sentenced to Prison for Illegal Timber Harvesting and Banned from All National Forest Lands
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Idaho
BOISE – Richard Russell Kersten, 36, of McCall, Idaho, was sentenced to one month in federal prison for illegally harvesting timber from national forest lands, U.S. Attorney Josh Hurwit announced today. In addition, Kersten was ordered to pay the government $8,000 in restitution and banned from entering all National Forest System lands for a period of three years.
According to court records, beginning in late 2018, U.S. Forest Service officers received information about a group of individuals who were causing extensive natural resource damage in the Payette National Forest near McCall. These individuals were cutting and removing timber illegally and then selling it as firewood in the local communities. Through numerous investigative methods, officers learned that Kersten was acting as a “watchdog” for the group and was illegally removing trees and creating unauthorized roads and campsites in the forest. The investigation later expanded to include the Nez Perce and Boise National Forests.
The forests each have a fuelwood permit system that allows members of the community to lawfully cut a designated number of cords of firewood each year. The evidence showed, however, that Kersten was manipulating the fuel wood permit program and taking more than his permit allowed. This resulted in extensive natural resource damage to the forest.
“National forest lands are an Idaho treasure and provide recreation and resources for thousands of people each year,” said U.S. Attorney Hurwit. “Through close collaboration with our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners, we will protect these public lands so they can continue to be enjoyed by future generations.”
U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill also sentenced Kersten to three years of supervised release, which will commence upon completion of his prison sentence. Kersten pleaded guilty to the crime on December 5, 2022, and was sentenced on April 3, 2023.
U.S. Attorney Josh D. Hurwit, of the District of Idaho, commended the cooperative efforts of the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Idaho State Police, Adams County Sheriff’s Office, Valley County Sheriff’s Office, Idaho County Sheriff’s Office, and the McCall Police Department, which led to charges.
Public Information Officer
Updated April 7, 2023