A Sustainable Truth: What is the Lacey Act?

The oldest wildlife protection statute in the U.S. is the Lacey Act. Enacted in 1900 and named after John F. Lacey, the Lacey Act was created to fight against illegal trafficking in wildlife, fish and even some plants. In 2008, the Lacey Act was expanded to include the certain logging practices and all plants. It also made the prosecution much more powerful in terms of both criminal and civil courts, which also aids law enforcement in pertinent information such as having importers declare country of origin.

Most individuals in the decking, flooring, and lumber industry are supportive of the Lacey Act, but there is little concern that the amendment will be effective on every level from logging to the consumer. That being said, it is imperative for Law enforcement to actively patrol the use of illegal wood. This happens so that domestic production companies do not have to compete with manufacturers and suppliers who are cutting prices because they procure wood illegally and are therefore in violation of the law.

What acts are illegal under the Lacey Act?

According to the Lacey Act, it is illegal to take, possess, transport, sell and/or own illegally harvested wood and products made of wood. Individuals who participate in these illegal practices will be held accountable and could have civil penalties imposed on them up to $500,000 along with criminal liability that could lead to five years in prison. The charges vary due to the knowledge of the individuals who have possession of the wood or wood product. It is expected to know the origin of wood and if the wood seems suspect, it should not be purchased.

Why is the Lacey Act so important?

The Lacey Act is a vital amendment because it is deters the importation and practice of illegal logging and trafficking. Companies that would rather circumvent the Lacey Act than practice under the law in the marketplace are eventually weeded out. The companies that run their business by the rules can therefore prosper and bring properly harvested and legal lumber to the United States.

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