GAINESVILLE - Two Northeast Georgia men were recently ordered to pay fines and restitution for ignoring property lines and building structures on Chattahoochee National Forest land.
Joshua T. Pritchett, 28, of Ellijay was ordered to pay a fine of $100 along with $2,700 in restitution costs for constructing a wall on National Forest land within the Rich Mountain Wilderness and removing trees during construction of the wall.
Pritchett pled guilty before U.S. Magistrate Walter E. Johnson for "removing a natural feature" from the Chattahoochee National Forest.
The second case involved Jamie Calvin Adams, 60, of Helen, who was ordered to pay a $500 fine and $1,386 in restitution costs. U.S. Forest Service officials say Adams had built a fence enclosing 1.37 acres of national forest land in White County and was grazing livestock on it. This was on part of the congressionally designated Mark Trail Wilderness Area.
Adams, appearing before U.S. Magistrate Susan S. Cole, was ordered to remove all fencing and posts from the federal land within 30 days.
U.S. Forest Service Lands Staff Officer Terry Stolz stated, "As development in north Georgia increases, we are seeing more instances of trespass by adjacent landowners onto national forest property. These violations come in many forms including individuals who build sheds, place mailboxes, pave driveways; plant gardens, place signs or even build houses on national forest property."
On the Chattahoochee and Oconee-National Forests there are about 2,700 miles of property boundary lane arid these lines are typically maintained on a 15-20 year cycle. The property line between this federal land and private property is marked with signs and red paint on trees that can vary within a few feet of the true centerline or actual property boundary.
"The best way to avoid problems is to have a licensed surveyor verify your property line before you begin any work on your property." says Stolz. "If work is being done by a contractor; make sure they recognize and protect the (federal) boundary during the work since the property owner, not the contractor, assumes liability for straying onto national forest land. If an encroachment or trespass occurs, the Forest Service will require that it be removed and any disturbance be repaired."
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Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests.