MARIETTA, Ga. -- Hundreds of volunteers and hundreds of thousands of dollars in renovation to make Sope Creek National Recreational area (a unit of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area) a showplace for hikers and mountain bikers has hit a snag just a week and a half before its official opening.
Bike path signs have been ripped from their moorings and trashed, trail maps and guides have been taken from their casings and destroyed, and fencing has been pulled apart.
Park rangers suspect vandals are causing the damage.
Repairs and replacements will cost taxpayers thousands of dollars.
"They just keep working it, working it until they can jerk it right up out of the ground and then chuck it off to the side," said Dave Thomas, a National Park Ranger who heads the Sope Creek Volunteer Program.
When Sope Creek officially opens its new bike and hiking trails on April 5, signage is what will make it work.
"All the map posts are correct. All the signage is correct. That has not been like that since the time I got here. People were lost walking out through here," Thomas said.
"We are putting them in for a reason to try to keep people on these designated paths to designate where it's pedestrian only, where bikes can go. We are not really sure who is doing it," he added.
National Park law enforcement rangers are investigating and say they have leads but so far no arrests.
They've placed hidden cameras throughout the park and are reminding would be thieves and vandals that jail time and a huge fine await them.
Rangers assure the public that after thousands of volunteer hours, the trails will open April 5 even if volunteers have to steer the traffic.