The U.S. Forest Service is apologizing after it ripped up a portion of the Trail of Tears in the Appalachian Mountains. The damage has reopened wounds for Native Americans who consider the land sacred.

The agency acknowledges that an employee approved construction along a ¾-mile section of the trail without authorization.

The damaged trail lies on the edge of Tennessee's Cherokee National Forest near Fort Armistead. That's one of the stops where Cherokees were held during their forced migration West in the 1830s, a trip that killed thousands.

The Forest Service purchased the land in 2014 to protect it for future generations. The agency is now working with several tribes to determine how to repair the damage. It also is halting all projects near the trail in a four-state region.