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Sonoma County Couple Ordered To Pay Nearly $600K For Uprooting 180-Year-Old Oak Tree On Protected Property

SANTA ROSA (AP) - A California judge has ordered a couple to pay nearly $600,000 for uprooting a 180-year-old oak tree and causing other damage to a protected property.

The case against Peter and Toni Thompson reportedly started in 2014, when a concerned neighbor reported heavy equipment and digging on a property protected under a conservation easement.

Court documents show a Sonoma Land Trust official found more than 3,000 cubic yards (2,300 cubic meters) of dirt and rock had been removed and a 180-year-old oak tree had been uprooted.

The tree, along with at least a dozen others that were moved without permission, all died.

The couple also allegedly dredged a lake on an adjacent property they owned, and dumped the soil on the protected land.

The county sued the couple and a judge ruled against them last month. Shortly after, the Thompsons put the protected property and a neighboring ranch on the market for $8.45 million.

The couple is filing for a new trial.

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