Community frustrated by closure of remote Monroe County road

North River Road is set to be closed by the Cherokee National Forest Service until the new year.
The closure of North River Road is frustrating people who live in Monroe County.
Published: Sep. 26, 2022 at 6:46 PM EDT
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CHEROKEE NATIONAL FOREST, Tenn. (WVLT) - Just days ago the Cherokee National Forest Forest Service closed North River Road in Monroe County to all traffic.

In a Press Release sent to WVLT News, forest service officials site maintenance work as the reason for the closure and said it would be closed from August to January, should work be completed on schedule.

While a forest service lock rests on a gate blocking the road, community members are now sounding the alarm over what they fear the consequences that could result from the shuttering of the road.

”It doesn’t only affect a small group of people. It affects a lot of the whole surrounding areas,” said Barry Duckett, president of the Tellico Mountain bear and boar club.

Along with Duckett, several other community members are frustrated over the closure. This shuttering of the remote road comes as Monroe County gears up for its busiest time of the year.

”Anglers, hunters, hikers, jeep clubs, we’ve got tons of jeep clubs that come here and shops in these shops in town,” said Duckett.

Duckett fears the loss of income could spell irreparable damage to the county and city’s budget.

The budget feeds into departments like the police department.

”We’re a small department, and we depend on that, and when that’s not coming through for us, it worries us,” said Chief of Police Jeb Brown.

Brown added the budget shapes how many officers are on his force and their salaries, things that can be greatly impacted by the loss of income.

Community members believe they aren’t asking for much. The community wants the forest service to delay repairs until January during the county’s down months.

Now the county’s tourism department is working to play the middle man to help both sides reach a positive agreement.

”At the end of the day this is everyone’s forest and it benefits us all, so, it benefits all of us to try and work together to come to the table to be open to different ideas and different perspectives,“ said Director of Tourism in Monroe County Blaina Best.

WVLT News reached out to the forest service but did not hear back.