Derry police chief 'astounded' by forest vandalism
Police Chief Ed Garone, Town Councilor Neil Wetherbee, and Conservation Commission Chairman Margaret Ives recently met to discuss ways to combat the destruction of trees in the forest.
“I was frankly astounded by the magnitude of the damage that had been done,” said Garone. “Weber Forest is owned by everyone in town, but no one has the authority, ability or right to destroy any property there.”
The damage in the forest was not the result of someone taking target practice, the chief said.
“These were fairly large pine trees that were shot down,” Garone said. “They looked to be a minimum of 10 to 12 inches in diameter and were shot so many times they were splintered. This is clearly abusive destruction and irresponsible behavior.”
People who destroy the trees in such a manner are subject to criminal charges for property damage, he said.
However, because shooting is allowed on the property, Garone said it can be difficult to apprehend those who do the damage.
Garone, Ives and Wetherbee discussed several ideas about how to combat the problem, and Garone suggested that the Conservation Commission having a greater visibility in the area during the times when the damage has traditionally occurred could help.
“At the time when the damage has been historically done, the commission could do a walk-through through that part of the forest,” Garone said. “People who do this type of damage are not eager to be observed by others. It may serve as a deterrent and certainly shows the commitment of the Conservation Commission toward preserving Weber Forest.”
People observed damaging the property could also be restricted from the property by the town, he said.
“Is it dangerous to have the commission members walking the land as police, to some extent, to try and stop it?” Town Councilor Joel Olbricht asked.
Garone noted that most of the shooting occurred at close range to the trees and that the presence of people who care about the property in the area could act as a deterrent.
He said it could be difficult to catch someone in the act because shooting is allowed on the property.
“They can target shoot all day long as long as they are not doing damage to the trees,” Garone said.
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