Two Forks men are accused of cutting chunks of cedar from a state Department of Natural Resources bridge at a DNR property on the Upper Hoh Road in West Jefferson County. (Photo courtesy of Department of Natural Resources)

Two Forks men are accused of cutting chunks of cedar from a state Department of Natural Resources bridge at a DNR property on the Upper Hoh Road in West Jefferson County. (Photo courtesy of Department of Natural Resources)

Forks men accused of cutting up bridge for cedar to sell on black market

Both plead not guilty; trial dates set

PORT TOWNSEND — Trial dates have been set for two Forks men accused of cutting chunks of cedar logs from a state Department of Natural Resources bridge to sell on the black market.

Jose Carmen Salinas, 42, and Troy Stephen Crandall, 62, are each charged with first degree malicious mischief — physical damage in excess of $5,000, first-degree trafficking in stolen property, and second-degree theft — other than a firearm, according to court documents.

During their arraignment Friday morning in Jefferson County Superior Court, both entered not guilty pleas. Trial dates are set for Jan. 24 for Salinas and Jan. 31 for Crandall.

The malicious mischief charge and the trafficking in stolen property charge are both Class B felonies punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a $20,000 fine. The theft charge is a Class C felony punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine, according to court documents.

Both tried to have their bail reduced from $50,000 to $10,000, but the motions were denied by Judge Keith Harper.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Anna Phillips said in court that Crandall has had 15 warrants for his arrest — with one active — and a history of failing to appear in court.

She also said that a DNR engineer informed her the bridge has been closed because of damage.

“He basically deconstructed a bridge,” she said. “This was a situation that put people in peril.

“This isn’t someone who just picked up some cedar.”

Regarding Salinas, Harper highlighted that he’s had more than 90 warrants for his arrest over the last 40 years and a history of bail jumping and failure to appear in court.

Phillips also acknowledged that Salinas has criminal history in several counties including Clallam, Kitsap, Thurston and Grays Harbor spanning back to 1999.

At about 10:50 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 22, state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Police officer Allen Nelson received a call from a deer hunter about possible cedar theft about a 1.5 miles behind a closed DNR gate on Upper Hoh Road, according to a report Nelson filed.

The hunter had heard a chainsaw running up the hill where he was planning to hunt, he said. As he walked up the hill where it leveled out with the bridge, he saw a silver sedan, the chainsaw stopped and he noticed cedar blocks in a ditch nearby.

He then left the area to call DNR, Nelson’s report said.

When Nelson arrived in the area, the hunter showed him where he had heard the chainsaw and Nelson eventually came upon a silver sedan, stacks of cedar blocks piled near the side of the wooden bridge and both Salinas and Crandall sitting in the car, the report said.

Nelson described the pair as “wet, cold and covered with cedar sawdust and both of them smelled strongly of chainsaw gas.”

When asked about the woodcutting, Salinas said “they were hungry and needed cash,” Nelson’s report said.

Crandall told Nelson that “this is corporate bullsh-t; this bridge is rotting away” and reportedly admitted to cutting the bridge before being read his rights, according to Nelson’s report.

Nelson said that the outside span on the north side of the bridge had been cut and removed, cables holding the bridge together were hanging underneath and the west side bottom girder was sawed apart.

The cedar laying on the deck of the bridge matched the wood of the from the cut girder, Nelson said.

Two large chainsaws, two axes, a metal wedge, a peavey hook and a two-gallon gas can were found at the scene, the report said.

Nelson estimated bridge repair costs at about $20,000 and said that about $3,000 in cedar block were cut from the structure.

The DNR tweeted about the event Thursday, saying it was believed that the two were going to sell the cedar on the black market for mill owners to turn into shake and shingles.

The DNR tweet continued: “Can’t believe we have to say this, but don’t take chainsaws to our bridges.”

Anyone who sees anything out of place on DNR-managed lands is asked to report it to 855-883-8368 or [email protected]

________

Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at [email protected]

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