by Linda Mumma

TUOLUMNE COUNTY (CBS13) — A tagging tornado in Tuolumne County sparked outrage after a man posted a video of the vandalism on Facebook. It happened at a popular picnic area in the Stanislaus National Forest.

The white spray paint covers public picnic tables, bear boxes, grills, and walkways with racial slurs, curse words, and insults.

“I stood there and I was just awestruck,” said Mike Austin.”Very sad to come down and deface this beautiful piece of property.”

Austin and his girlfriend Selena found the 30-square foot area covered in graffiti while walking their dog at the Riverside day-use area near the town of Tuolumne Tuesday afternoon.

Stanislaus National Forest spokesperson Diana Fredlund said workers also discovered the damage just one week after opening the area for the summer season.

“We went ahead and closed the day use area at that point,” Fredlund said.

Crews attempted to power wash the spray painted surfaces.

“It didn’t work quite as well as we hoped, so we are going to be doing other measures,” Fredlund said.

Those measures including a community cleanup Friday morning where volunteers are welcome.

“We’ll have all the materials, the paint, the brushes, anything that’s needed,” Fredlund said.

Until it’s clean, forest officials say the gates will remain closed. This, frustrating families who come to the park to enjoy the natural beauty.

Both the sheriff’s office and the forest service are investigating the crime. The community cleanup is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Friday at the Riverside day-use area, just three miles down Buchanan Road from Black Oak Casino.

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