Vandals run over gate in Wolford Mountain Recreation Area north of Kremmling
Sometime between Christmas and New Year’s, someone drove up to the off-highway vehicle open area in the Wolford Mountain Recreation Area north of Kremmling, found the area closed and ran over the closed gate to gain access anyway.
Avery Arduser, a Bureau of Land Management park ranger, said this sort of vandalism happens more often than he would like or many would assume.
“This is still property damage, even though it’s happening on public lands,” Arduser said.
Vandalism on public lands often goes unnoticed, Arduser said. More common damages than gates being run over include signs being used for target practice by hunters. Arduser said Stay the Trail, a nonprofit that advocates for responsible off-highway vehicle use, helped fund a new informational kiosk for an offroading trail in the Wolford area.
“I would say it was on the ground for maybe two weeks before it got shot up,” Arduser said. “It’s just really frustrating.”
The person who drove through the gate for the off-highway vehicle open area broke the gate, tore out a fencepost and damaged wire fencing. Arduser estimated it will cost around $500 to repair the damage.
“It’s a minuscule amount of money,” Arduser said. “But it’s still going to take probably a full day’s worth of my time to fix this.”
Fixing broken gates, replacing shot-up signs, removing graffiti, cleaning up bathrooms after someone drops a firework into a toilet and any other vandalism cleanup work takes time away from BLM rangers’ normal projects. Arduser said people sometimes think certain sites seem neglected, but they would not look that way if vandalism did not pull rangers away from their work.
“We are so short staffed that stuff like this puts us back so far,” Arduser said. “Just this office manages about 400-and-some thousand acres.”
A BLM law enforcement officer discovered the broken fence and reported it to Arduser, but by the time they did, the vandal was long gone. Arduser said there would be no way to find the perpetrator and prosecute them.
The off-highway vehicle area closes during the winter because big game migrate through and reproduce in the area, Arduser said. People have stolen gates before, but Arduser thought the destruction of this gate deserved attention.
“This is one I want to kind of bring to the community and say, ‘Please stop, you know who you are,’ stuff along those lines,” Arduser said. “It’s a cost to the government, it’s a cost to the community itself and it’s just frustrating on my end.”
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