RAYMOND — The town is offering $500 for information about who cut down an ornamental maple shade tree on Route 302 early this week.

The tree, worth $2,500, was planted about 10 years ago as part of Raymond’s Route 302 corridor improvement project, said Town Manager Don Willard.

Willard said the town will reward $500 to anyone who has information that leads to the successful prosecution of the person or people who cut down the tree.

He said it’s the principle of the matter that motivated him to offer the town’s money.

“You should not be able to destroy public property,” he said today.

The tree was found on the ground near the end of County Road on Tuesday morning. Willard said he believes it was cut down Monday night or early Tuesday morning and that the culprit was trying to use Tropical Storm Irene as a cover-up for the crime.

Willard said he’s not willing to tolerate the alternative to seeking out the responsible person.

“You just let them cut it down? Is that what America’s about?” he said.

Anyone with information about the tree can call Willard at 650-9001, or the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department tip line at 1-800-266-1444, ext. 2208.