Snowmachiners damage university research site

Posted: Friday, February 16, 2001

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Snowmachiners broke through a fence at the University of Alaska Fairbanks agricultural research fields Tuesday, wreaking havoc with sensitive research.

''Last year, we spent over $5,000 putting a new fence in and they still got in there,'' farm superintendent Larry Burke said. ''I guess if there's new snow, they've got to mark it.''

It was the second such incidence of vandalism at the site. Earlier this winter, a 100-foot section of fence was flattened by snowmachines. Maintenance worker Alan Tonne fixed the problem and figured he was done with mending fences for the winter.

Tuesday, though, a hole was opened up in the southeast corner of the enclosure. The field is now a crazy patchwork of furrowed snow with a few splotches of fresh dirt.

''It was a net wire fence,'' Burke said. ''They had to be carrying a pretty good pair of cutters with them.''

The field contains the work of several UAF researchers, including Steve Sparrow, professor and department head of plant, animal and soil sciences in the School of Agriculture and Land Resource Management. Sparrow's experiments took the brunt of the incident.

The vandals ran over plants being used in experiments to determine how perennials overwinter and how certain ground cover plants stand up under snowfall.

''They drove right over the top of those,'' Sparrow said.

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