Mixed-up mailing list concerns tree cutter Ad lands in box of 'green' lobbyist

November 09, 1993|By Erik Nelson | Erik Nelson,Staff Writer

Brandon Seward likes to pick his trees before he cuts them.

"We do a very, very selective cutting. It's sort of like going out to your garden and picking the right tomatoes. So, when we leave the woods, you really can't tell we've been there," said Mr. Seward, the president of Timbertech Inc. of Darlington in Harford County.

But Mr. Seward would appreciate it if the mailing lists he buys were as picky.

Last month one of his mailers, explaining the benefits of "extracting" or "harvesting" mature trees in one's woodlands, ended up in the wrong mailbox in Clarksville.

It was read with interest by Nancy Davis, who owns seven acres of woodlands and just happens to be state legislative chairwoman for the Sierra Club.

"I even feel guilty about cutting up the dead trees, because I know the bugs live in them," said Ms. Davis, whose business card bears a caricature of her hugging a smiling tree with a chain-saw toting logger fuming behind her.

Ms. Davis was also one of the leading lobbyists for the 1991 Forest Conservation Act, which makes it illegal to cut down trees on lots of more than an acre without permission from county planning authorities.

"My concern is that some unsuspecting person in Howard County or wherever will allow this person to come in and cut down trees and it might be in violation of this reforestation act," she said.

But because Mr. Seward's business is considered forestry, what he does is exempt from the law, which is mainly aimed at minimizing the destruction of forests by real estate developers.

Besides, he said, he never meant to solicit business from residents for their backyard woods anyway.

The mailing list Ms. Davis was on had a number of errors. The mailing reached property owners with much smaller lots than Mr. Seward is interested in, that is, 20 acres or more.

"A couple of times it went to people that had half an acre, and that wasn't the intention," he said. Some did turn out to be good prospects because the lots contained some worthwhile species of tree, however.

After some smaller property owners received the mailer, "they thought that they had inherited a tract of land somewhere and they wanted me to disclose the location."

Timbertech pays anywhere from $20 for run-of-the-veneer-mill trees to $15,000 for rare paulownia or black walnut trees. Its mailers go to addresses, mainly in the Baltimore area, culled by XTC mailing list companies from government records.

Mr. Seward said it is unfortunate that his mailer solicited business from someone who disagrees with what he does.

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