Bill Paxton, spokesperson for the Mark Twain National Forest, said it should take a couple of months to complete the improvements, with work in the river getting top priority, because stream work is only allowed during certain times of the year. "The main priority is working on the things actually in the river, such as the retaining wall, boat ramp, boat and canoe tie up areas," said Paxton. Once the project is complete, there will also be better boat and trailer parking and a gravel loop road.
When asked why the Whitten Access was chosen for improvements, Paxton replied, "The over all plan is to improve the river. Whitten Access has severe erosion and grouting problems, user problems and the area is pretty beat up. We just want to improve the access and facilities. It's part of a county effort. Oregon County widened the access road." Funding for the project is available through the Secure Rural Schools Act. The Resource Advisory Committee, which is made up of county and government officials, decides how funds from the Secure Rural Schools Act will be spent.
"We have been allocated approximately $30,000 from the Resource Allocation Committee to assist in completing this project," said Tim Bonds, a Forest Ranger. Bonds encouraged the public to take advantage of other Eleven Point River accesses, and apologized for the inconvenience while working on the Whitten Access.
Paxton said, "This is a neat project and we hope to re-open in October. There is a lot of work that we have to do, but we are also putting campsites near the restrooms, and we have to do an archeological survey. We just got the funding for the surveys and will have to contract that but, once that is done, we will site the campsites and have spurs for campers."
Paxton is looking forward to the improvements and said that it should relieve congestion at the Whitten Access, and will make it a much better and safer place. The final outcome will be similar to what has already been done at the Riverton Access off of Highway 160.
USDA's Mark Twain National Forest is the largest public land manager in Missouri with 1.5 million acres in 29 southern and central Missouri counties. The National Forest's goal is to continue to restore Missouri's natural communities and maintaining a healthy, working forest.