Elma man pleads guilty to wood theft

A 46-year-old Elma man pleaded guilty Monday to second-degree theft in Grays Harbor Superior Court. He was accused of cutting down trees on Department of Natural Resources land for firewood.

Michael C. Finch admitted to cutting at least six Douglas fir trees from a spot in the Capitol Forest. A DNR law enforcement officer tracked the missing trees for more than a month before he heard a chainsaw on Jan. 26 from the area where the other trees had been cut.

He spotted Finch and another man driving a truck loaded with fir that had been cut up into firewood, with a chainsaw in the cab. The men admitted they had been cutting wood from the site over the past few months.

“I was going to use it to keep warm,” Finch explained at his sentencing.

A DNR forester examined the stumps and remains of the felled trees and estimated their value at more than $4,000.

Finch was released on personal recognizance and will be sentenced in two weeks.