Vandals have cut down six large trees with a chainsaw, apparently for firewood, at the Pinnacle Reserve picnic area on Mount Canobolas.
One of the trees was about 80 years old, another was burnt at the site, and four of them were green and difficult to burn for a fire.
Orange City Council has erected a warning sign and might consider installing mobile CCTV cameras to detect any future vandalism.
Five of the six trees were cut down in the past four days.
Deputy mayor Cr Joanne McRae said it was “hard to imagine” why anyone would commit such an act.
“Why someone with a chainsaw would want to bring down a tree in a picnic area like this is beyond me,” she said.
“It is illegal and we will be following up on anybody who is taking trees out of public areas.
“It is a bit like walking into Cook Park and taking some oak tree because you want some oak chips for your barbie.
“I know it is cold in Orange and people want firewood but cutting them out of our public reserves is not okay.”
Cr McRae said the vandalism had widespread repercussions.
“It actually impacts on that bigger picture of the environment, we have had old trees removed which are habitat for parrots, for possums, for gliders,” she said.
“And we’ve also had the new trees taken out, and they are probably 20-30 years old anyway, so it has a big impact of the future use of the public reserve.”
She called on anyone with information to contact council.
“If you saw something can you say something,” she said.
“Please contact Orange City Council if you noticed any unusual behaviour, trucks, utes, trailers and people using chainsaws.
“This is not the only location where we have people operating chainsaws and taking wood off public land.”
Cr McRae said council might consider installing cameras in the area.
“Using mobile cameras and ensuring people know that they are going to be caught may have an impact on this kind of behaviour,” she said.
Council spokesman Allan Reeder said the rough way the trees were cut down indicated the offenders were not experienced with chainsaws and were endangering themselves.
Council officer Andrew Cole was checking on ivy infestation when he noticed one tree cut down six weeks ago. Three more stumps were found on Monday and two on Tuesday.