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Vandalism leaves a trail of destruction in woods around Marietta

On Friday morning about 30 trees were found placed across Upper Ray Lang Trail and Old Walnut Trail in Marietta, with this photo of the safety risk circulated through local hiking, trail running and mountain biking Facebook groups. (Photo provided by Anne Gray)

MARIETTA — A foray into the woods may soon end in injury on hiking and biking trails in the area.

Photos appeared Friday on local Facebook groups documenting direct safety risks added this week to trails in the Norwood area.

The photos show trees deliberately stretched across the Upper Ray Lang Trail and Old Walnut Trail.

“It’s been going on for a couple of months, and we haven’t been able to completely understand the motive for it,” said Ryan Smith, head of the River Valley Mountain Bike Association and co-owner of Marietta Adventure Company. “Whoever is doing it definitely does not have the interests of public safety in mind. The trails we maintain are developing into a world-class mountain biking and trail destination in general, and we won’t tolerate this.”

For now, the RVMBA is encouraging all runners, hikers and mountain bikers to proceed with caution through Moon Trail, Plum Trail and the Ray Lang Trail.

Graffiti on trees and trail signs have been an ongoing issue in recent months in the Norwood area. (Photo by Janelle Patterson)

“It’s been ramping up recently,” said Dispatcher Kevin Burns of Marietta Police Department. “We sent out the public facilities department a couple of weeks ago after calls about fishing line strung between trees across the trails.”

Public Facilities Foreman Tanner Huffman also explained that the lines started going up along trails in the city a couple weeks ago during a ridealong with Councilwoman Cassidi Shoaf.

He added that most of the trail maintenance is coordinated through volunteers from the RVMBA.

“And they’re good about working with us if they need specific equipment or something larger from us to help with the trail,” said Huffman.

But in the last two weeks surrounding the Rivers, Trails and Ales Festival, unknown vandals upped their game.

New graffiti on signs and trees along Moon Trail had Michael “Moon” Mullen, former mayor, upset Thursday, and Smith also noted a fire was reported by trail runners a couple weeks ago on the trails.

Smith said the vandalism puts at risk users of the trails who could reach high speeds on bicycles.

“The Marietta trail network is about 30 miles and in the 15 years since we’ve started this network we haven’t had these issues until recently,” he said. “This is trail sabotage.”

Other members of RVMBA have also shared concerns for children who use the trails to walk to school, with the first day back in Marietta Wednesday.

Janelle Patterson can be reached at jpatterson@mariettatimes.com.

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At a Glance

* Forest trails in the Norwood area of Marietta have seen increased vandalism in recent weeks.

* Trail runners, hikers and mountain bikers are cautioned to proceed slowly through local trails.

Vandalism has included:

* Fishing line strung between trees across the trails

* Fires set along the trails

* Logs and boards with nails blocking the path of trails

* Graffiti on trail signs and trees

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