Private monuments are not permitted on federal land

The Croatan National Forest is asking that residents who have place memorials of deceased pets at the Newport Simmons Fire Tower remove them.

The U.S. Forest Service prohibits the placement of private memorials or remains on national forest land, according to a release. Cemeteries, monuments, or other memorials are prohibited on national forest lands because they can be considered to create an exclusive or perpetual right of use or occupancy; that is, the use can in effect grant title or create the appearance of granting such a right to federal land.

“We are sympathetic to folks who have lost pets, but this is not the right place to memorialize them,” Croatan District Ranger Cody Hutchinson said in a statement. “We are requesting that the people who placed the monuments remove them from the historic fire tower site.”

Forest service staff will remove any remaining monuments from the site on June 15 and bring them to the Croatan Ranger District office on U.S. 70 between Havelock and New Bern. The monuments will be held for 30 days for owner pick-up.

The Newport Fire Tower was built in 1935 by the African-American Civilian Conservation Corps Camp Patterson and later named in honor of fallen World War II veteran Furnifold McLendel Simmons. Before serving in the war, Simmons manned the lookout from 1935 to 1943. The tower is the last of six fire towers still standing on the Croatan National Forest and is the last standing structure to have been built by Camp Patterson. It is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.

For more information, call the Croatan Ranger District office at 638-5628.