Vandals fined for damaging Quetico tree

A Toronto man and his son have been fined for defacing an ancient tree in Quetico Provincial Park.

Oleh Gadacz and his son, Marco, were fined a total of $2,575 for burning the names of family members into a 250-year-old red pine in the park last summer. An investigator used the names on the tree and park visitor registrations to lay charges against the father and son.

A pure stand of large red pines at the east end of Quetico dates back to about 1750. The trees have played a role in long-term climate research and there have been a number of projects over the years to protect them. Among other things, local volunteers helped remove brush piles to reduce the fire hazard — and volunteers from the UK worked to establish long-term succession plots. Seeds from the trees also serve to re-stock the forest.

Park visitors receive a brochure when they enter the park, explaining that it’s against the law to remove, cut or damage vegetation or trees. Damaging tree bark can lead to insect damage and potentially, the death of the tree.

In addition to being fined for vandalism, Marco Gadacz has been banned from the park for one year and his father was fined $125 for not paying the adult park fee for his two sons, who were over the age of 18.

Neither man appeared in court for the June 7th trial in Atikokan. $1500 of the fine will be contributed to the Quetico Foundation.