OREGON COUNTY -- It was announced last week that the 2004 Interior Appropriations Act has passed in the United States House of Representative. It contains a $500,000 provision requested by 8th District Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson. Emerson has said the funds will be used to fight meth in the Mark Twain National Forest.
In the 8th Congressional District there are 1.5 million acres of the Mark Twain National Forest. Of all the counties in the district Oregon County boasts the most forest service land with 105,000 acres. Emerson said, "Unfortunately, with that honor (large amount of forest service land) comes the dubious distinction of having a forest that has been besieged like no other public land. In 2000 there were a record number of meth labs seized on public land, and nearly 70 percent of those labs were in the Mark Twain National Forest."
The congresswoman said that the Mark Twain National Forest has had more meth labs seized on it than any other national forest in the United States. "These funds will be used to crack down and rid our forest of this dangerous and deadly drug and the criminals who are cooking this poison," she said.
Several forests, including the Mark Twain, have become dumping sites for illegal drug makers who favor heavily wooded forest areas to make drugs because the terrain makes it tough for law enforcement to locate labs.
Officials with the forest service have said they will use the funds to hire additional officers to help eradicate meth from the Mark Twain and to fund cooperate efforts with local law enforcement.