CHARLESTOWN, IN (WAVE) - Vandals hit a newly re-dedicated nature preserve in Charlestown, Indiana.
The Nine Penny Branch Nature Preserve is located off of Tunnel Mill Road. Indiana Department of Natural Resources is working to figure out who damaged stone walls and benches.
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Indiana Conservation Officer Jim Schreck said this was not an easy crime, as some of the rocks weighed up to 100 pounds. Conservation officers suspect more than one person was involved.
"It's actually some of the last remaining old growth forest in the area," Schreck said.
The Nine Penny Branch Nature Preserve was recently given new life when an improved hiking trail opened to the public last year. Stone walls and benches line the route.
"Those stone walls were painstakingly created. And these people took the time to destroy them and undo all that effort," Schreck said.
Benches were damaged and a portion of the stone wall was destroyed. Several large rocks were tossed over the hillside.
"Being able to recover those is not easy. They are going to have to be replaced," Schreck said.
Schreck said that is not all that was found.
"Some drug paraphernalia was located near the trailhead as well," Schreck said.
Since the trail opened, Schreck said the 120 acres has been a place for people to hike and get away.
"Nature preserves, as the name implies, are to preserve those natural areas for our future generations. And the fact that someone would come to those areas and destroy them for fun or for a thrill is beyond frustrating," Schreck said.
Now DNR must look at ways to improve security and are considering the idea of surveillance cameras.
"We are trying to deter any type of vandalism. These are beautiful, remote areas that folks can come out and safely enjoy. But these instances do cause us to increase and step up patrols," Schreck said.
Conservation officers will reward anyone who leads them to the person or people responsible for this vandalism.
To share information, call Indiana District 8 at 812-837-9536 or call the anonymous tipline at 1-800-TIP-IDNR.