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The LAWS That Protect South Carolina´s Forests

South Carolina´s forest protection laws safeguard the state´s valuable natural resources and the property and health of her citizens. South Carolina Forestry Commission law enforcement officers have the authority to investigate violations of the forest protection laws and to arrest offenders.



Section 48-35-10 Starting fire in woodlands, grasslands, and other places shall be unlawful unless certain precautions are taken.

Precautions include notifying the SC Forestry Commission prior to the burn, clearing the area around the site to be burned, assuring adequate personnel and equipment to prevent the fire from spreading, and making sure the fire is under control before leaving.


Section 48-35-50 State Forester may prohibit fires.

Section 48-35-40 Burning prohibited during periods of emergency.

The Governor may ban all outdoor burning during forest fire emergencies.


Section 16-11-170 Willfully burning lands of another.

It is illegal to maliciously set fire or intentionally cause fire to spread to another´s land.

Section 16-11-180 Negligently allowing fire to spread to lands or property of another.

It is illegal to carelessly set fire or negligently allow fire to spread to another´s land or property.



Section 16-11-580 Cutting, removing, or transporting timber logs or lumber without permission.

It is illegal to remove or destroy trees from another´s land without the consent of the owner. It is also unlawful to transport timber (including lumber made from that timber) knowing it has been removed without the landowner´s consent.

Section 16-13-30 Larceny

Petit larceny: theft of property valued at one thousand dollars or less

Grand larceny: theft of property valued in excess of one thousand dollars. 
This statute applies to timber theft.

Section 16-13-177 Confiscation

Any property or equipment knowingly used in the commission of timber theft/fraud with a value of timber in excess of $5000.00 may be confiscated.

Section 16-13-230 Breach of trust with fraudulent intent

Anyone who commits a breach of trust with fraudulent intent or who hires or counsels another person to commit such a breach of trust is guilty of larceny.

Section 16-13-240 Obtaining signature or property by false pretenses

Anyone who obtains a signature, money or property from another with the intent to defraud is guilty of a felony.

The above two statutes apply to cases where bids are rigged, volume is misrepresented, or a landowner is not paid as agreed for timber harvested.

Section 48-23-97 Load Ticket Requirement

A timber buyer or timber operator purchasing trees, timber, or wood by the load must furnish the timber grower or seller a separate, true, and accurate wood load ticket for each load of wood within 30 days of completion of the harvest.



Prescribed burning and site preparation burning are legitimate uses of fire outdoors, but smoke must conform to air quality standards established by the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control. You are responsible for health or safety hazards caused by your smoke.

In order to conduct outdoor burning legally:

  •  Plan your burn so neither the fire nor its smoke creates hazards or causes damage to another´s property.
  •  Notify the South Carolina Forestry Commission of your intent to burn.
  • Conduct the burn carefully, taking precautions to prevent the fire from spreading outside the intended burn area.
  •  Comply with all county and municipal ordinances.
  • and NEVER burn when the State Forester or Governor or has placed emergency restrictions on outdoor fires.

Remember: If your fire or its smoke causes damage or creates a hazard you may face civil lawsuits in addition to criminal charges.

Notice to Citizens:

Timber theft and fraud have become serious problems in our state. Before you sell your timber make sure you have a fair estimate of its current value. Get a written contract. If you do not live on your land, visit frequently or have a neighbor check for you. Know your property boundaries and mark property lines.

 Call the S. C. Forestry Commission for information about outdoor burning or timber sales.