Police searching for 2 accused of damaging over 60 trees along Upper Merion trail

Authorities in Upper Merion are searching for two people who they say ripped out freshly planted trees and damaged dozens more along a local trail.

The Upper Merion Police Department shared still images Wednesday that showed two suspects, both described as white males in their teens or early 20s.

Investigators found that a total of 62 trees along Crow Creek Trail were either ripped from the ground or otherwise damaged, according to police. 

"My guess is they’re probably local to the area because they were carrying fishing poles. The Schuylkill River is just down the road here. They were likely on their way there and back," said Detective Andrew Rathfon of Upper Merion Township Police Department.

Detective Rathfon said Sunday was in fact the second incident in a matter of days. The first incident occurred on Thursday, June 6, when 15 trees were uprooted. That’s when a trail camera was installed capturing the suspects returning for a second time.

About 300 new trees were planted along the Crow Creek Trail in April. An effort led by Upper Merion High School student Sam Montich.

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Upper Merion High School students hard at work planting trees along the Crow Creek Trail before the vandals got to them. 

"I started thinking about issues in my community, and one of the community members on the Shade Tree Commission said that this area has an issue with stormwater," said Montich. "One way to mitigate that would be to plant more riparian trees to absorb the excess water and prevent it from leaking out and flooding the Township."

Montich said members of the Upper Merion High School track team, the local Boy Scout troop and the Shade Tree Commission all pitched in to plant the trees.

"I was more baffled than anything because I couldn’t find a reason why someone would want to rip out these trees. I didn’t understand what kind of purpose that would serve to anybody," said Montich. "This was an effort I was passionate about and needed help for and they decided to undermine that by ripping out these trees."

"For a young person to be supporting this community, doing something to help the environment, it’s a great thing for everybody. So it’s just a shame to see someone come along and vandalize that," said Detective Rathfon.

Anyone with information about the suspects is asked to contact the Upper Merion Township Investigation Unit at 610-265-3232.