Vandals have damaged or removed barriers recently installed to prevent ATV access to sensitive wetlands at a local nature preserve.
The damage was done to bollards — short vertical posts — at the Woodcock Preserve on Tanner Road, which is owned by Saratoga PLAN, a private non-profit land conservation organization.
The bollards were intended keep motor vehicles like ATVs out of the preserve at a power line right-of-way some distance from the roadside trail entrances. The bollards were removed once, and replacement bollards were also tampered with.
“It all happened in the last couple of weeks,” said Andy Fyfe, PLAN’s stewardship director.
The recent incidents follow completion of several improvements at the nature preserve, including a new informational kiosk, installation of bluebird boxes and the bollards.
The recent improvements were made as part of an Eagle Scout project for Joel DiPersio, a member of Boy Scout Troop 6 in Jonesville. They were completed by the troop in September.
While documenting his project with photographs, the scout discovered the bollards the scouts installed had been vandalized, as well as other bollards installed by other volunteer trail stewards.
Two replacement sets of bollards were installed by volunteers, but the replacement bollards also have been tampered with, Fyfe said.
PLAN officials then set up a wildlife camera near the trespassing point, and a man was captured on camera removing the structures. The images of the man, who had a dog with him, have been turned over to both the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Department and state police, Fyfe said.
The 72-acre preserve is a hardwood wetlands conserved for American woodcock habitat with passive recreational trails. Motor vehicle use is prohibited. Fyfe said ATV trespass has been an ongoing problem, and the four-wheelers damage trails and cause erosion.
In general, such vandalism is a very small problem for PLAN, Fyfe said. PLAN owns nearly a dozen nature preserves in Saratoga County and owns or has easements on nearly 3,400 acres of land.