OREGON COUNTY -- The Oregon County Commission was approached several years ago by officials with the United States Forest Service about the county taking over the maintenance of certain Forest Service roads in Oregon County.
Presiding Commissioner Leo Warren said over the past several years the negotiations seemed to stall until recently. "They finally just quit grading or taking care of certain Forest Service roads in the northern end of the county and hired private contractors to do the work," Warren said.
Northern District Commis-sioner Buddy Wright said the roads were not being maintained. He said maybe once in the spring and once in the fall the contractors would run a grader over the roads with small, older equipment that was not getting the job done.
Oregon County has more Forest Service land than any other county in the state, with 105,607 acres of Mark Twain National Forest in the county. Wright said the roads in question are 35 or 40 miles of Forest Service roads all in the northern end of the county. And he said the project includes 11 rights of way.
Warren said all neighboring counties with Mark Twain National Forest Service land have been doing some of their own road work in the national forest for quite some time and Oregon County was the last county to be contacted by the Forest Service regarding the road work.
Mark Twain District Engineer Jerry Bird said the roads became the responsibility of the county Dec. 21.
He said some of the roads in question were the Cane Bluff Road, the road to Whitten Access, the road off Highway 19 into Hurricane Creek and into the wilderness. "Some of the roads in question are only about one-half mile, with the longest one being approximately 7 miles," Bird said.
He said the Forest Service would continue to maintain most of the roads providing access to the National Forest. "These roads being taken over by the county are mostly roads where land owners own private property," the district engineer said.
The commissioners agreed that the main reason they decided to take over the maintenance of the roads is to help the people who live on or near the roads in question.