Ashland Citizens' Budget Committee member Keith Baldwin is under investigation for allegedly having a tree service cut down a pine tree and top another one at Strawberry Hald Park.

Ashland Citizens' Budget Committee member Keith Baldwin is under investigation for allegedly having a tree service cut down a pine tree and top another one at Strawberry Hald Park.

Baldwin is having a house built on land near the park, which is located in southwest Ashland in the hills overlooking town.

He owns a half-acre at 433 Strawberry Lane, according to Jackson County property records.

Earlier this month, the Ashland Parks and Recreation Department received a phone call from a neighbor who was concerned about trees being cut on parkland, Parks Director Don Robertson said.

"An employee responded and found that one tree had been removed and one had been topped on our property. We contacted the police," he said.

Some people have speculated that the trees were cut to improve the views from Baldwin's house. The trees were an estimated 35 to 40 years old.

Robertson said he could not confirm why the trees were cut, since it would require a subjective judgment.

"The views up there are pretty spectacular, whether or not the trees are there," he said.

Baldwin said he had no comment about the case.

Ashland police Deputy Chief Corey Falls said Baldwin told police that an honest mistake had been made because of confusion over his property line.

Robertson said one tree was about 10 or 15 feet from Baldwin's property line, while the other was about 50 to 75 feet away.

Baldwin could face a charge of criminal mischief, or the Jackson County District Attorney's Office could decide not to pursue the matter.

The District Attorney's Office is awaiting more information about the case, a representative said on Monday. If the office decides not to prosecute Baldwin criminally, the parks department could try to get restitution from Baldwin through a civil case, Falls said.

Parks Commissioner Rick Landt told the Tidings by email, "I am disappointed and disheartened that someone cut down a large ponderosa pine and topped another one in Strawberry Hald Park. I won't speculate on motives, but I will say that, speaking for me, not the Parks Commission, I hope the person or persons responsible for this act will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law."

Robertson said officials are working to determine the value of the park trees.

He said the area could be replanted in the future.

"They won't be as big as the ones that were cut," he said.

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com.