September 6, 2018 – Durham Regional Police have laid more than 10 charges and arrested one individual for trespassing and vandalism-related incidents during the last four weeks as a result of increased enforcement at Durham East Cross Forest Conservation Area.
Though illegal, historically the property has been a popular area for people to drive jeeps, trucks, All Terrain Vehicles and dirt bikes, resulting in significant environmental and ecological damage. Despite numerous signs, postings and gates, some people continue to vandalize gates, trails and cameras. In August, vandals used a steel saw to cut through a metal gate restricting access to motorized vehicles while destroying several trail cameras.
“Every time someone vandalizes infrastructure at Durham East Cross Forest it costs money, it costs taxpayers, families, users, all of us,” explained Kristie Virgoe, Director of Stewardship and Conservation Lands. “People need to be respectful of the permitted uses and appreciate they are in place for a reason.”
Durham East Cross Forest Conservation Area protects an ecologically sensitive part of the Oak Ridges Moraine and includes springs, seepage areas, and wetlands that form the beginnings of East Cross Creek and Pigeon River, along with significant wildlife habitat and natural features.
“We are thankful and appreciative of the efforts of the Durham Regional Police Service to recognize Durham East Cross Forest Conservation Area as a high priority area to curb the ongoing trespassing and vandalism,” said Ms. Virgoe. “In talks with police, enforcement efforts will continue throughout the fall months to send a clear message to would-be abusers of the conservation area that it is illegal and it will not be tolerated.”
There are currently more than 7 kilometers of sustainable trails at Durham East Cross Forest Conservation Area. They offer excellent hiking, bird watching, bicycling, horseback riding and cross-country skiing for families, residents and visitors from outside the area. A special agreement with the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Club allows specific trail access to OFSC members during winter as a connecting link.
Throughout the different seasons, visitors can pass through sugar maple forests, pine plantations, open meadows, and sand barrens while spotting many unique species of birds, such as Wood Thrush, Canada Warbler, Northern Flicker, and the Savannah Sparrow.
“Durham East Cross Forest Conservation Area is a significant and important part of the Oak Ridges Moraine and needs to be protected and respected,” said Ms. Virgoe. “We will continue to monitor and actively enforcement any and all illegal activity within the conservation area for the benefit of all residents of Scugog Township, Durham Region and visitors to this popular and special natural space.”
If you witness illegal activity or motorized or off road vehicles in Durham East Cross Forest Conservation Area please contact Durham Regional Police at 905-579-1520.