Blue Mountain Audubon Society, Fort WW Natural Area Arthur G. Rempel Nature Trail.jpg

Clustered around signs that have since been stolen, a group from Walla Walla University spent a work day in fall at the Fort Walla Walla Natural Area trail with members of Blue Mountain Audubon Society. The signs read, Blue Mountain Audubon Society, Ft. Walla Walla Natural Area, Arthur G. Rempel Nature Trail.

Blue Mountain Audubon Society reported the theft of a two-part sign that greets visitors at the Fort Walla Walla Natural Area, bordered by Myra Road and Poplar Street.

The local chapter of the national environmental organization dedicated to conservation is offering a reward for its return or information leading to its return. 

Tom Land with Audubon said the signs were unbolted from their posts and may have been taken on July 3. He said members of Walla Walla Valley Prop Twisters (facebook.com/Proptwisters/) noticed their sign, which had been attached to a nearby cyclone fence, was also stolen around that date.

Tom filed a report with the Walla Walla Police Department on Monday. He said the carved wood signs were placed at the trailhead parking lot at the beginning of the trail, near the north entrance that leads to Fort Walla Walla Museum.

“The stolen signs were the result of a partnership between the Blue Mountain Audubon and the city of Walla Walla Parks Department some 13 years ago. The design was done by the city to match other park signs done at the same time — then these signs were crafted at the Washington State Penitentiary,” said Mike Denny with Audubon.

Those who “stole these signs have robbed all of us, as this is a city park. The signs were a 60/40 split in cost between the city parks and Blue Mountain Audubon to the tune of $1,800. When these signs were taken these folks stole from us in the here and now and all those coming in the future,” he said.

“Several of us have put hundreds of volunteer hours into developing and maintaining trails in the (Arthur G.) Rempel Natural Area at Fort Walla Walla for the enjoyment of the public,” an Audubon post states on Facebook. “Senseless vandalism like this is extremely discouraging.” 

Mike added the trail system in that natural area was dedicated to Arthur, a late biology professor emeritus at Whitman College, who in 1980 helped build the trail system. 

“This is a unique park in all of Southeast Washington due to the fact that it is an island of habitat that hosts many dozens of native plants and wild animals. It is a rare fragment of what the Walla Walla river valley once looked like. It is an outstanding educational outdoor lab for observation and research,” Mike said.

“It’s really frustrating to say the least. I just don’t get it. Members of the Audubon chapter have worked incessantly in the natural area, putting in new trails, bridges and directional signs,” added Audubon member Chris Howard

“It’s a lot of work, and it’s really looking good then somebody steals the sign. It doesn’t make sense.” 

Chris traversed the trails Monday to see if the signs were ditched in the natural area, but no luck. 

Mike said, “I would urge these unethical people to return these signs to the site. What would their moms say to this? I cannot believe that these signs were taken — they belong to all of us and they must be returned.” 

Report any information to the Police Department at 54 E. Moore St., or call 527-4434.

Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at annieeveland@wwub.com or afternoons at 526-8313. 

Annie joined the U-B news staff in 1979 and since 1990 has written Etcetera, a daily community column. She was promoted to a copy editing post in 2007. She edits copy, designs and lays out pages, including the weekly arts and entertainment guide Marquee,

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