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Trash, vandalism, illegal off-roading increasing across Southwest Virginia national forests

Left: illegal motorized use dug deep ruts and damaged plants near Birch Knob. Right: The signature board at High Knob tower was permanently damaged by vandalism. (Photos: USFS)
Left: illegal motorized use dug deep ruts and damaged plants near Birch Knob. Right: The signature board at High Knob tower was permanently damaged by vandalism. (Photos: USFS)(WYMT)
Published: Jan. 31, 2020 at 4:35 AM EST
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The U.S. Forest Service is seeing an increase in illegal activity that is damaging national forest lands across southwest Virginia and is asking for the public’s help in reporting such incidents.

The Clinch Ranger District of the Washington & Jefferson National Forests says incidents of vandalism, littering, and illegal off-roading are on the rise in Dickenson, Lee, Scott, and Wise counties in Virginia and Letcher and Pike counties in Kentucky.

According to the Forest Service, vandals damaged one of two signature boards at the High Knob Tower in Wise County. The boards were installed to give visitors the opportunity to leave their mark without defacing the tower. Due to the vandalism, some of the signatures on the affected board were lost.

Illegal off-roading near Birch Knob Tower and Mullins Pond Road in Dickenson County has also caused damage and forest visitors and employees have been finding trash, including household garbage, dumped in forest recreation areas, according to the USFS.

The Forest Service is asking members of the public to report illegal activities by calling Law Enforcement Officer David Ford at 276-679-8370 ext. 225. Damaging public resources could result in fines of up to $5,000 and six months in jail.

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