Rancher loses appeal, will have to pay more than $130,000

Rancher loses appeal, will have to pay more than $130,000

By Tim Petruk

Kamloops This Week

A Kamloops-area rancher will be out more than $130,000 after illegally chopping down trees on Crown land.

The Court of Appeal of British Columbia released a decision today (Nov. 8) in which Ronald Hegel’s appeal of an earlier lower court decision was dismissed.

Hegel owns property on the North Thompson River, near Kamloops and adjacent to a parcel of Crown land.

He bought the land in 2000 and tried to establish its boundaries.

Hegel surveyed the land himself, locating what he thought were old corner pins.

He also relied on property-title documents and notes from a 1911 survey of the property.

Another document Hegel used in his measurements was a land grant from March of 1909, which estimated the size of the property to be about 130 acres.

Hegel’s measurements were off and, at some point in 2002, he harvested timber from what he believed to be his own land.

Later that year, the Ministry of Forests discovered the unauthorized logging and hired its own surveyor to measure the lot.

They concluded the property was actually about 88 acres in size.

In 2005, the Ministry concluded Hegel had harvested 1,815 cubic metres of timber from Crown land.

He was fined $132,897.40 — including more than $111,000 for the timber, more than $16,000 for reforestation costs and a $5,000 penalty.

Hegel appealed the decision and took the matter all the way to the province’s top court.

His hearing with the Court of Appeal of B.C. was held last month at the Kamloops Law Courts.

Hegel argued that he was misled by the notes from the 1911 survey.

In the written decision of the three-judge panel, Court of Appeal Justice Ian Donald said the notes are “not conclusive as a matter of law.”

Hegel’s appeal was dismissed.