ORONO, Maine — A group of criminals raised havoc at the Orono Bog Boardwalk on Sunday night, causing so much damage that the mile-long boardwalk was forced to close, director Jim Bird said Monday morning.
“It’s a real mess,” he said. “We have to close today and maybe tomorrow.”
The damage was discovered just after 7 a.m. by Wendall Trembley, who was opening the boardwalk for the day. Bird estimated it will cost “hundreds, maybe thousands” to repair.
“They basically ripped off 20-25 benches,” which are placed every 200 feet along the boardwalk, he said. “They smashed about 20 deck boards with their boots.”
They also broke into the cabin, ripping the door off its hinges and stealing at least one item from inside, damaged railings and destroyed nearly half of the interpretive signs.
“They ripped off six and threw them into the bog,” Bird said.
To get to the boardwalk, the group also broke the lock on the gate.
The bog walk allows visitors to walk or use wheelchairs to make their way through a northern peat bog. It is located in the Bangor City Forest and on adjacent University of Maine property and last year had more than 30,000 visitors.
Visitors on Labor Day were stopped at the broken gate.
“We’ve had to turn away about 25 people so far since 8 a.m.,” Bird said around 10 a.m. Monday.
Two of those turned away on Monday were Bangor resident Amanda Turcotte who brought along Matthew Parks of Milford, who had never seen the boardwalk.
“There is no other ecological system like a bog,” she said. “It’s beautiful here.”
The two were saddened to hear about the vandalism.
“I’ve heard quite a bit about the place,” Parks said. “There are few places like this that are relatively untouched.
“It’s frustrating” that someone would damage it, he said.
Bangor police were called to the scene and are investigating the crime, he said.
Those with information about the investigation may call the Bangor Police Department at 947-7385. The department’s anonymous tip line may be reached by pressing extension 6.