A bridge that had fallen into disrepair on a trail in Windham's Lowell Preserve next to a new one built by an anonymous hiker without clearance from the town. Credit: Courtesy of Town of Windham

PORTLAND, Maine — A Maine town is trying to identify the rogue hiker who built a replacement bridge next to a collapsed one along a hiking trail on a popular 308-acre preserve.

“When outside entities create trails and structures without notifying our department, that leads to confusion for hikers and others” using the Lowell Preserve, Windham town manager Barry Tibbetts posted Wednesday on Facebook.

The post drew widespread criticism from Mainers who felt the town was targeting the hiker for wrongdoing, instead of thanking them for installing a safe crossing on a municipal trail that had become dangerous.

The town’s post was edited Thursday to apologize and “thank” the anonymous hiker for making the repairs.

Although its one-person parks and recreation department routinely receives calls about felled trees or animals along the path, Tibbetts said the broken bridge had not been reported to the town, which maintains the preserve with help from partners.

The old bridge will be removed and the new one will be “inspected for functionality,” he said.

Tibbetts said that no one had offered information about the hiker as of Thursday afternoon, but they won’t face repercussions if identified.

“If you want to find the person you might try interviewing people picking up litter off the sidewalks, giving lost strangers directions or shoveling the walkways of the elderly,” one commenter suggested on social media.