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Indiana man upset over vehicle restrictions in wilderness

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — An elderly Indiana man said a recent decision by the Hoosier National Forest will prevent him from accessing a cemetery where his family is buried.

Kenneth Hays, 81, said he is handicapped and needs road access to the Charles C. Deam Wilderness, particularly the Hays 2 Cemetery, The Herald Times reported . The wilderness area borders Lake Monroe near Bloomington.

Local forest supervisor Michael Chaveas released an opinion earlier this year that limits vehicle access, which Hays said basically eliminates his ability to go into the area where his relatives are buried.

"Under this new opinion, I have two options of getting to the cemetery," Hays said, explaining that he could either walk four miles from a parking lot or be required to make the trek on horseback.

"Neither are good options for me," he said.

Chaveas said that although a 1999 forest policy allows direct relatives to use motorized vehicles to visit cemeteries in Deam Wilderness, only one person requests access each year. That means it's no longer economically feasible to maintain the trails, he said.

Hays said he's typically not the only person in his family visiting the cemetery.

"Usually, some of my kids and grandkids go with me," Hays said. "Usually there are close to 10, sometimes more of us, that go in."

Hays has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the governing body over the wilderness, alleging the opinion violates his civil rights.

"They are considering my complaint," he said. "Currently they are looking to see what department has jurisdiction over it, and they will act on the complaint."

Information from: The Herald Times.

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