The enormous oak tree stood tall about the ground for the last 180 years. It flourished undisturbed, and its branches fanned out in every direction. The tree was planted on a swath of protected land in Northern California.
However, until one day, heavy machinery was brought near this piece of land. It was brought to the wooded area owned by Toni and Peter Thompson, which was located just north of San Francisco. Thompsons were building a new home using the machinery.
A strange idea popped up in the mind of Thompsons, and they uprooted the tree to plant it somewhere else i-e decorating a nearby property where Thompsons were building a new home. But little did they know that attempting to relocate the tree proved to be an anthropogenic activity in the eyes of the law. It excessively damaged the surrounding environment. Therefore, it proved too costly for the Thompsons.
A 56-page decision was given by Sonoma County judge, as he ordered the couple to pay a considerable amount of money i-e $586,000 in damages. The couple was asked to fund the restoration efforts as they had caused damage to the environment. The couple had knowingly violated a conservation easement – an agreement which makes sure that the 34-acre property must be left in its natural state.
The judge gave the decision in favour of Sonoma Land Trust, which is a nonprofit responsible for enforcing the easements. This trust had sued the couple over the tree removal activity. The trust also had complained that the couple repeatedly lied to the officers of the trust, and their behaviour was also rude and arrogant.
Thomspons, on the other hand, after reading the court’s verdict say that the damage caused to nature was not intentional. They maintained that they were into the area because they loved its natural appearance. Therefore, how could day do anything wrong?
However, the first tree which Thompsons uprooted died instantly, and it had to be cut up and hauled away. The efforts to relocate the other two trees also didn’t go quite well.