Sinks vandalism: Park probing defacement at popular waterfall
From Staff Reports
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is offering a reward for information in connection with vandalism at the popular Sinks waterfall on Little River Road.
Park visitors on Jan. 31 reported the defacement of the natural stone features and masonry stone walls at the Sinks. Vandals spray-painted pictures and profanity along the walkways, stone walls and natural rock throughout the area.
“This was not a minor act of tagging by someone with a can of spray paint,” said Chief Ranger Clay Jordan. “The amount of damage maliciously caused to this beautiful setting is disheartening.”
Jordan announced that the park is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the individuals responsible for this vandalism. Rangers report that the graffiti includes references to “Wolfgang” and “Lumberjack.”
Park employees spent several hours removing the offensive language and images using a variety of techniques to remove the paint without causing further resource damage.
In 2010, the park renovated the Sinks parking area and built new stone masonry retaining walls, cut-stone walkways and a new overlook area with a masonry wall and handrail so that all visitors, including the disabled, are able to safely view the waterfall and rapids.
The Sinks, which is located between Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area and the Townsend Y, is a popular destination for visitors throughout the year who stop to view the 15-foot cascade.
It is unlawful to disturb or deface natural and historic resources within the park. Perpetrators may be sentenced up to six months in jail and or fined up to $5,000. Anyone with information as to the possible identity of the vandals is encouraged to call the tip hotline at 865-436-1580.
Max Patch problem
Federal authorities are also dealing with a vandalism problem at Max Patch on the Appalachian Trail in Madison County, N.C.
Owners of four-wheel drive and all-terrain vehicles have cut down barbed wire fences, knocked over U.S. Forest Service posts and signs and drove up the face of the mountaintop bald to gouge out ruts on the summit by performing “doughnuts,” according to a report by the Asheville Citizen-Times.
Tina Tilley, Appalachian District ranger with the Forest Service, which manages the remote area together with the National Park Service and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, said rangers have cited some individuals, but the destruction has continued.
“With the weather we’ve been having, it’s causing significant damage on top of the bald,” Tilley said in the newspaper article. “Back in December we went and put up a barrier so people knew they weren’t allowed to drive up there. We put in Carsonite posts that said ‘No motorized vehicles beyond this point.’ It was very clear they weren’t supposed to drive up there. They tore those out of the ground.”
Tilley said the property, a high-elevation bald in Pisgah National Forest about 60 miles northwest of Asheville, is closed year-round to motorized vehicles. It is a popular recreation area for hikers and campers, with a 4,269-foot elevation providing 360-degree views as far as the Smoky, Roan and Black mountains.