Thursday, September 08, 2016

Trail of Tears damage may top $1 million (Bulldozed by Forest Service)

Federal investigators with the Office of Inspector General may soon be called upon to determine who was responsible for bulldozing a section of the historic Trail of Tears in southern Monroe County. U.S. Forest Service officials admit that the work was done by their own personnel but without proper authorization or approval. One of two employees said to be involved in the bulldozing has since retired from the Forest Service. The other employee is believed to still be with the department. The Forest service has refused to name the employees who could face federal charges. Almost a mile of the original Trail of Tears was bulldozed. Thirty-five trenches were cut across the trail, most measuring three to four feet deep. Some officials have labeled the trenches “tank traps” due to their similarity to World War I trenches used in Europe to stop military tanks. Forest officials say that the excavation work was ordered by one of their own forestry hydrologists for the purpose of “erosion control.” They refer to the piles of dirt created by the bulldozers as “berms,” which they say were also intended to stop recreational vehicles from accessing the 460-acre tract. An estimated $28,000 was reportedly spent on the bulldozing. The cost of returning the trail to some semblance of what it was, is estimated to be more than $1 million since no further use of heavy equipment is expected to be permitted at the site and the work may have to be done by hand, officials say. An inspection by another federal agency, the National Park Service, seemingly refutes the “erosion control” explanation. Their archeologists noted that with only one exception, they found “no major signs of erosion observed anywhere” along the section of trail in question. Most of the trenches span the width of the original Trail of Tears. Forest officials also found that the flow of a stream had been altered, in further violation of federal law. Forest officials say the work on the stream was for “channel restoration and stabilization” but now say it “resulted in extensive adverse effects to the Trail of Tears.”...more

No comments: