Indiana Men Charged With Creating Illegal Bike Path In State Park

fortbencbsMichael Hufhand and Jed Kidwell, both 54,  are facing a novel criminal charge: creating and maintaining an illegal bike trial in a state park.  The two men were specifically charged with criminal mischief and trespassing for their bike trial in the Fort Harrison State Park.

State officials alleged that security cameras captured the two men spraying herbicide in the Chinquapin Rookery Nature Preserve.  They executed search warrants for two Facebook accounts of Hufhand, including a site for the “Fort Harrison Mountain Bikers.”

The officials show how the men destroyed the soil and plants of the preserve for their bike path — damage that will be very difficult reverse and will reportedly cause $50,000 to address.


As probably would not surprise members of this blog given my love for hiking, I have no sympathy for these men if they are guilty and view the charges as an important development in defending our natural areas.  Anyone who would go into a park to spray herbicide deserves a jail stint.  An actual sentence to jail may be unlikely for these crimes but such a sentence would in my view serve the public interest.

Do you think the men should be sentenced to jail time?

32 thoughts on “Indiana Men Charged With Creating Illegal Bike Path In State Park”

  1. The nature reserve within an Urban State Park is only 100 acres total. It is preserved as a nesting area for several species of birds, including endangered species. Within this 100 acre area, they used herbicides, shovels, and other tools to make over a mile and half long trail. The area is posted and there are no trails or roads into the protected area. They caused over $50,000 in damage which makes it a felony offense. Some of the damage they did can not be repaired. They deserve more than just a slap on the wrist. There are other parts of this urban state park which are open to bikers but not this rookery area.

  2. These guys must really love pedalling. Hmmm. Love pedalling??? !!! OK, sooo maybe these dudes need an Irish Poem! Because, I am just humming on my percolate Community King Cake blend coffee! Darn, that is some good stuff!

    Pedal Philia???
    In Irish Poem by Squeeky Fromm

    Some cyclists named Michael and Jed,
    Down an unapproved cycling path sped!
    They both hit a bump,
    And were dumped on their rump
    Then they got an idea in their head!

    Some RoundUP @reg; a hoe, and a spade. . .
    VOILA! A new bike path they made!
    The Park Rangers freaked!
    The Sierra Club shrieked!
    It was illegal to “make the grade*”???

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

    *You know “grade”. . . the verb form, “to level off to a smooth horizontal or sloping surface.”

  3. This is a quite common problem caused by both mountain bikers and horseback riders. I do not think that people understand the harm, and they do not realize the damage they cause.

    I have ridden extensively deep into trails. When riders come upon heavily used mountain bike trails, they often go off the path, and ride parallel to it, creating a new trail. Riders do not need herbicide. If it is low perennials and grasses, hooves will rapidly trample it into a narrow trail. People think of it as trailblazing. If they want to get somewhere lovely, they go off the beaten path to find it. Crest a trackless hill and feel accomplishment.

    So why is this bad? Why do state parks control trails and paths?

    In Southern California, at least, water is the limiting factor. It is a kind of miracle for the temperature and the rainfall to be just right for a California native to grow. Some parts of CA only get a couple of inches of rain a year. Those tender, tiny sprouts have to put down roots and grow deep to follow the vanishing damp earth. Unless they are an annual, they have to be lucky enough to germinate at the start of a good rain year, and the frost has to be timed just right so as not to pinch back any precious new growth. Then it has to harden and transform from tender rabbit food to tough woody twigs that taste like fermented gym socks, quickly. For as soon as the brief rains are done, comes spring and summer, and by fall, rabbits are like ravening zombies looking for something, anything to eat. Southern California only gets its brief rains in winter, and nothing in spring, summer, fall, or early winter. Native chaparral takes hundreds of years to really get established, but invasive annual alien grasses choke it out throughout much of the state. That thatch is highly flammable, which contributes to the increasing frequency of fire. Virgin Chaparral does not burn easily at all, and can be quite difficult for firemen to create a back fire, unless it is choked with alien brush and grasses.

    When people trail blaze, trails slowly get wider and wider and wider. The open hard ground out here is difficult for seed to get established, as it gets blown away. Open ground is also drier. So it does not regrow. Eventually, the area can get crisscrossed with nothing but more and more trails. Annuals like the California Poppy and the perennial lupine who get smashed before their seed is released mean that wildflower areas die out and do not reseed.

    Trailblazing was starting to ruin wildflower reserves, until they had to start posting strict warnings about it. People would keep to the edge of the trail to see the flowers, or they would wade into them to pluck bouquets, removing more and more flowers before they set seed, and widening trails until they were boulevards. Even with the notices, it’s hard to enforce. Many people still smash the delicate blooms to get their picture taken. Something to remember is that in California, the poppies and other wildflowers use that rain to push all their energy into growing. By the time they bloom, it is long past the last rain. They invest all of their reserves into making and sowing seed, and then they die. They keep no reserves back, like a perennial does, which is why annual wildflowers are show stopping. When they get stomped on, there is no more rain for them to do another push. They just die.

    I understand why the mountain bikers blazed a trail. They wanted access to some spot, and likely felt the state park was their resource, and what harm could it do? I, too, used to go off the trail on my horse when I was younger to let bikes pass, or to pass people walking. Or I would go off following rabbit trails to see where it would take me, riding for hours. I don’t remember any notices about going off trail decades ago like you see now. I have also had a mountain bike fly down the twisting trail behind me way too fast, lay his bike down, and actually hit the back of my off-the-track horse’s legs, causing him to bolt. So I am very sympathetic to riders who prefer to go off trail entirely when bikes are around. Mixing bikes and horses on twisting hilly trails is dangerous. However, now that I have learned more about the damage caused, the only acceptable reason to go off trail is safety.

  4. Having lived – and hiked extensively – southern California, somtimes the coolest things you find are the trails that aren’t supposed to be there. I don’t see what these two guys did as a big deal. I am surprised their trail apparently persisted for quite some time before the authorities caught on.

  5. How about community service to restore the damaged area and other park upkeep?

  6. but such a sentence would in my view serve the public interest.

    That is exactly the reason why you (JT) should never sit on the bench. You have passions that override what would be just. Jail time for creating a bike path? It’s not as though they’re using the park to smuggling drugs or sex traffic. Sentence them with the cost to cure the damage and court costs.

    1. OLLY – they have probably needed a new bike path for 30 years and these guys built it for them. Leave it alone and just mark it with a “bike trail” sign. Then repay the guys for the herbicide.

      1. We’ve done that a good bit in our local state park, although we would never use herbicide. They are pretty OK about it for the most part; it’s hard to beat on cyclist when you took the crown jewel of the park system and stuck a casino in the middle of it. Besides, the guys here who have actually made new trails in the mountain were trained by IMBA on how to properly construct a trail to avoid runoff and erosion issues. At least in our state, they have come realize the demographic that takes part in these activities are fairly well-off and bring in much needed cash to local economies. Lots of people from the DC area come up to spend weekends here. So, the brave men in this particular state park have probably just lost significant local revenue for the locality for the foreseeable future.

        1. slohrss29 – most of the trails in AZ were built by the WPA and not updated since then. South Mountain Park, which has a national trail, has not changed a trail in all the time I have lived here (1963). Those were CCC trails.

          1. Maybe some intrepid types will dig in. I guess they better be careful though. Maybe it’s still local enough out there that everyone will be on the bandwagon and it won’t be a big deal. Used to be that way here.

    2. Is there a bike path in the SP ? If not, should there be ?
      Of course these guys went out of their way to do a stupid thing, but for a good reason.

      1. They went out of their way to bypass the rule of law for what they believed was a good cause. Progressivism personified.

  7. Of course not! Sentence them to community service working to repair the “damage” they’ve done. Sheesh! Jail time? WTH?! Are we now a police state? Maybe we should send an FBI swat team to their houses to let them know how seriously we take messing with our shrubbery?!

    1. I don’t think we need to involve the FBI swat team but jail time? Yes. along with work cleaning up the mess they created. This was a crime that affected the community at large. It was not their land, it was land belong to all. Absolutely make an example of them. It doesn’t need to be a long jail stint, 30 days is plenty but it sure would make a mark.

  8. I think the public that you consider to have been victimized by their alleged actions would only be doubly victimized by being compelled to pay for their incarceration. At least restitution would actually ACCOMPLISH something. But hey, maybe that public PREFERS the bike path to the state’s choices — and it’s their park, right…?

  9. Turley, champion of communally owned parks?
    Mining in parks generates the mother lode of devastation.
    Stop voting Republican.

  10. So they allegedly sprayed some herbicide along a trail, which will kill plant growth for a year at most, so that people could use a state park for safe, off-road bicycling. Big freaking deal. More proof that there are too many “law enforcement” types chasing too many non-issues, all the while ignoring tips about self-identified school shooters and crimes that really matter.

  11. I do not believe these men have an offender score of any significance if not zero. Given the cost to restore the damage they caused I can understand a higher jail sentence but I don’t expect it to go beyond a couple weeks at most.

    I’d rather see full restitution made for actual costs in damage and not some grand scheme where they tabulate as granular as to pro-rate the costs of the employees’ uniforms (Yes, I’ve seen this happen) . A prohibition against their patronizing state parks is warranted.

  12. I think the two men are right and a new trail was needed. State parks are often not well-taken care off and they rarely change the trails. I think they should leave the trail alone and it should be for bikes only.

  13. Spraying poison in a State Park to create a MTB path? What could possibly be wrong with that?

    I could go either way Re. pokey time for these two dopes. Talk about giving bicyclists a bad name! All time winners, much?

  14. Ooohhhhh, this is absolutely CRIMINAL. Give them life imprisonment!!

    But please, whatever we do, let’s make sure that the FBI continues to receive billions upon billions of dollars in funding and that it gets to be staffed with anti-American, anti-gun, anti-Fourth Amendment Leftists. This is very important. Because without that Deep State apparatus in place, we can’t have a continual flow of mass murders, like the latest one in Florida. More mass murders are needed according to FBI and DOJ directives because then they don’t have an excuse for their anti-Second Amendment and anti-Fourth Amendment Leftist agenda that is necessary to expedite the destruction of liberty in America. Right?

    Of course, you know I’m right.

  15. These guys sure look older than 54 years of age. 54?? I suspect that 54 is a distant memory, in the rear view mirror, for these two old codgers, who are, most probably, a couple of confused senior citizens. I’m guessing that these two, old grumpy men decided to go for a relaxing bike ride, through the park, to help them digest their orders of Eggs over My Hammy–after their two-for-one senior special breakfasts at Denny’s–when they became confused and started spraying herbicide. . .confusing the park with the overgrowth in their own backyards. What should happen to these two old farts? They need to ditch the pride thing, fess up to their actual, true ages, and, maybe–just, maybe–the court will show some leniency due to diminished capacity and go easy on them.

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