Oak Harbor city officials want to know who is responsible for vandalism at the Centennial Grove planted recently on property at the corner of Highway 20 and Fakkema Road.
According to a press release from the office of Mayor Bob Severns, the grove was vandalized on the night of July 1 by someone riding an all-terrain vehicle.
The rider drove over approximately 100 Garry Oak seedlings and their blue protective tree tubes, crushing the tubes, breaking their bamboo stakes, and damaging the trees, said the release. A witness driving by the grove saw the ATV rider at about 9:30 p.m. last Friday and pulled over along Fakkema Road. When the witness pulled over, the ATV driver left the grove via a trail on the eastern side and headed south. ATV tracks indicated the vehicle entered a nearby neighborhood, according to the release.
The driver of the ATV is described as a young adult male with a lanky build and dirty blonde, slightly longer hair. He was wearing a white T-shirt. Anyone with information as to the identity of the rider is asked to contact Oak Harbor Police Sergeant Cedric Niiro at (360) 279-4600.
The grove was planted in phases last fall and early winter as a community project to honor the City’s Centennial. The first phase was the planting of 100 six-foot-tall saplings closer to Highway 20 and Fakkema Road, to representing the 100 years of incorporation as a city.
The second phase included planting 237 seedlings behind the larger trees. Most of the saplings were funded by donations from the community, and some of the materials such as mulch, soil, and fertilizer were donated by local businesses.
All of the seedlings were collected as acorns from local trees and grown in pots by local citizens, including members of the Oak Harbor Garden Club and the Oak Harbor Garry Oak Society.
The grove, located near the static display of U.S. Navy aircraft, was intended to help welcome visitors to Oak Harbor.
City staff members that shepherded the grove planting believe that most of the damaged seedlings can be saved, but that it will require new stakes and several hours of labor resetting the tubes.