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Jobless Hack Redwood Trees for Money

Updated on April 1, 2014

Desperate and unemployed, some jobless people are making a living by hacking the iconic, tall, Redwood trees that are found on the West Coast. Some of these trees are tall wonders, thousands of years old in pristine parks or private property.

What the hackers are doing are literally cutting away part of the tree to retrieve the burl that produces a new sprout. Sprouting from burls is the prevalent method of redwood propagation that allows the trees to live forever. After the hacker cuts away the burl, it is sold as decorative piece or it becomes a coffee table or clock. The hackers use their ATV's and chain saws to infiltrate deep into the hinterland of redwood parks to locate trees. It is no different than poachers killing Rhinos for their prized horn.

Usually, the oldest redwoods have the best burls and these are located in the protected parks. It is actually a lot of work to earn only $2-3 a pound, but you can find redwood tables on Ebay selling for $1300. When rangers catch the hackers, most of them are charged with misdemeanors and charged fines, which they cannot afford to pay. They are then released.

Some hackers have been ruthless, cutting huge gaps in the tree trunk to get the burl or a good piece of redwood for a clock or table weighing 100 lbs and creating a 8 x 10 ft. cut in the tree. Dealers in redwood products have to be cautious of buying illegal slabs of redwood. Many now require paperwork. A dealer might buy several slabs of redwood for $1600 and when sold, make $5500.

Both Oregon and California have seen an increased of redwood hackers but with over 133,000 acres to police with a handful of rangers, well, you get the picture.


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