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Multi-purpose parking lot vandalized

CONTRIBUTED — Over the last few days, someone with a vehicle (ATV or pickup truck) did substantial damage to the newly constructed parking lot at the northern end of Cherry Flats Road. This parking lot development has been a cooperative effort between the Watauga District of the Cherokee National Forest, Back Country Horsemen of East Tennessee, Carter County businesses and area citizens.
 The parking area is designed to provide outdoor recreational opportunities to a wide variety of outdoor enthusiasts in our community as well as visitors who want to enjoy our beautiful area. The parking lot offers immediate access to out and back trails and loop trails which vary in length and degree of difficulty in order to accommodate the broadest range of outdoor recreational activities possible. 
The Forest Service did a remarkable job of clearing, grading, leveling and smoothing in preparation for the Back Country Horsemen to gravel and compact the parking area as well as stabilize the perimeter road edge. This project took over five years of planning and the work took over six months and considerable time, effort and expense. Additional costs will now be necessary in order to return the lot to its previous condition and capabilities. In addition to the present capabilities the lot had, future potential uses could be as a master and command point for firefighting, Life Flight landing for rescue operations on the eastern end of the White Rocks Mountain area and disaster relief coordination. 
Anyone having information of the individual(s) involved in the damage is encouraged to contact the Carter County Sheriff’s Department and the Forest Service.