LOCAL ramblers and dog walkers have vented fury at the authorities after an entrance to Drum Manor forest was sealed with a barbed wire fence.
One Drum Road resident told the Mid Ulster Mail that the Forestry Service had blocked the side entrance to the park at Glenarney Road on New Year Eve.
The barricade of fencing and barbed wire strewn with muck has thwarted many locals who regularly use that entrance to exercise their dogs and go for a ramble.
The local resident told the Mid that he has been walking around Drum Manor for the past ten years without any hindrance.
“The Glenarney Road entrance is used by many local walkers and runners who want access to the forest park at times when the main car park is closed. The main car park
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is only open from 10am until sunset which is of little use to anyone who works but still wants to walk around the forest.
“Why the forestry service has suddenly decided to try and block access to the forest at this point is a mystery, considering Stormont has already debated out of hour access to forests and the continuing obesity problem in Northern Ireland and decided to allow the public access to the forests at all times,” said the resident who preferred not to be named.
“It is bad enough for the Forestry service to put barbed wire around the entrance, but to then spread muck on top of it is just senseless.”
A spokesman for the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Forest Service said: “The entrance in question is a non maintained access point into Drum Manor Forest Park. The entrance was closed for health and safety reasons. However, if pedestrians are still keen to use this access, Forest Service are happy to consider options for improving access at this entrance point whilst safe guarding the health and safety of visitors.”