ROLAND, Ark.—The Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office has launched an investigation after hikers noticed nearly 100 trees on a national trail were cut down illegally.
“There is dead limbs everywhere and these trees– some of them will not survive. Some will, but some of them won’t. It’s not right,” said Kay Sanders, a hiker.
Sanders says she has hiked the Ouachita Trail for 30 years near Spillway Road and was devastated to see the damage done last week.
“You don’t have the right to do this. No one has the right to do this,” said Sanders.
According to the Pulaski County Sherriff’s Office, a hiker saw six men taking chainsaws to trees on the Ouachita Trail last week.
Central Arkansas Water, who owns the land which the portion of the trail runs through, says a homeowner whose property backs up to the trail, contracted the work to be done.
“We don’t take things like this lightly. The tops of the trees look like something out of the Lorax,” said Raven Lawson with Central Arkansas Water.
Lawson says she has received around 50 emails and dozens of phone calls from hikers upset about damage.
She says after further evaluation, they believe 100 trees were either cut down illegally or had the tops of them shaved off because the homeowner wanted to view Lake Maumelle which was blocked by the trees.
“The view to the lake could definitely be increased– the view to Pinnacle mountain could be increased… there’s definitely a lot of nature that could produce million dollar views out here,” said Lawson.
They believe most of the trees will die, and the ones that did not will take years to grow back.
“A lot of damage and a lot of righteousness thinking you can do all of this, that you have the power, when it isn’t even your land,” said Sanders.
Central Arkansas Water says they are waiting to clean up the damage until the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office has finished their investigation.
As for the man accused of cutting down the trees, he has not answered our request for comment.
Investigators say he could face charges of Criminal Mischief in the first degree.