Park damage draws ire

By Shelby Stewart
Staff Writer
Ortonville- The village council Monday night was presented with photos of the Ortonville Wildlife Preservation Park, where illegal man-made structures were found in the protected area. 20170716_090622_resized
The 47 acre parcel, located near Harvey Swanson designated as wildlife preservation area April 24, prohibits motorized vehicles and bikes, developed bike or footpath trails, hunting or any other use other than to preserve and protect the flora and fauna of the property.
“I am one of the adjoining property owners of that property and I do hike back there,” said Dan Eschmann, councilmember. “But since that designation I did take a hike back there and there’s been some significant development back in that area that I was not aware of.”
Eschmann presented the board with a packet of photos showing a ramp about 10 feet high, made from freshly cut cedar trees in those same woods, a berm supported by freshly cut cedar trees, as well as additional ramps, a bridge over a creek, log benches around an apparent fire pit, and tracks made by a motorized off road vehicles and bikes.

“The last few pages show the construction of those structures have been taken down,” he said. “And at this point there’s a pile of what I’ll describe as rubble but timbers laying in a pile. But again here we got a designated area that’s a wildlife preservation park again that has been subject for abuse and20170423_154557_resized_1 illegal activity.”
After some back and forth on how to combat illegal activity in the protected area, the board voted 6-0 to put up temporary no trespassing signs which will stay until all of the dangerous debris can be cleaned up and to also get a survey done of the area to have a clear property line.
“Based on these pictures this has been going on for a while and I think it’s a disgrace that somebody would take it upon themselves to go into the village property and cut down such large cedar trees,” said Coleen Skornicka, trustee. “Cedar is a very expensive wood, and to cut them for ATV pleasure bridges and whatnot.”
Eschmann emphasized all of these goings-on are illegal, and the board will be looking into signs that state the designation to be posted on the border of the property.