Two Indianapolis-area mountain bikers were arrested and charged this week with causing more than $50,000 in damage to the Chinquapin Rookery Nature Preserve within Fort Harrison State Park.
According to Fox 59, Michael Hufhand and Jed Kidwell were charged with criminal mischief and criminal trespassing for creating and operating an illegal mountain bike trail.
The trail runs for several miles and is within a protected heron rookery, which is an area of nests or breeding grounds for the birds.
Indianapolis Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Capt. William Browne told The Indy Star, “This area is closed off to any human traffic. It was built for wildlife. Any time you segment property like that, you invite in invasive species and create an environment that is not the best habitat for the wildlife and vegetation protected in the area.”
Hufhand and Kidwell, both 54, were caught on trail cameras spraying herbicide on plants within the Preserve. This was confirmed by Facebook posts the duo made to each other as well as photographs. Fort Harrison State Park already possesses bike trails for use by the public.
The DNR believes Hufhand created and administered the Facebook group "Fort Harrison Mountain Bikers," which has 519 members at the time of publication of this story.
Browne acknowledged that the extent of the damage may take five to seven years of management to restore it to its natural state, if ever.
“Why someone would come in and destroy that, I have no idea,” Browne told The Indy Star.
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