ROANOKE, Va. – The USDA Forest Service has issued an apology after law enforcement officers used utility terrain vehicles on the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, damaging about 150 yards of it.
Officers were using the UTVs April 11 through April 30 to conduct welfare checks on two people who are protesting the construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline on the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, according to the Forest Service.
Officials are still evaluating the damage caused by the UTVs, said Michael Donaldson, special agent in charge for the USDA Forest Service Law Enforcement and Investigations, Southern Region.
"This is clearly our mistake and I apologize that it happened. Of course, we will see that the trail is repaired as soon as possible," Donaldson said.
The damage includes exposed bare soil, widened trail tread and UTV tracks on a low wet soil, Donaldson said.