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Dispute over road pits Powell County vs. Forest Service

By: Tim Johnston Email
By: Tim Johnston Email

POWELL COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - It's a road in the middle of nowhere, yet it's in the middle of a debate between County leaders and the U.S. National Forest Service.

"In 2006, the Forest Service took some action to close this road. It's my effort to reopen that road," explained Judge Executive James Anderson.

Anderson says it was brought to his attention that a trail labeled "Sheltowee Trace," in the Daniel Boon National Forest, actually becomes Sand Lick Road. He says that's a county road that runs across Wolfe County, Lee County, and on in to Powell County.

"In my opinion, it's a county road," stated the Judge Executive, "they should have not and did not have the ability to do so (close the road)."

So last Tuesday, Anderson reopened it but by Friday, "That was undone."

He says the Forest Service came back and cut a trench, again blocking off the road.

The U.S. Forest Service did not return our calls to explain why they closed the road, but there are signs that read there are no vehicles allowed because it's protecting the natural habitat.

While it's quiet out in the Daniel Boone National Forest, voices have been raised about who has rights to roadway. It got to the point where Judge Anderson says he was threatened to be arrested if he tried to open the road again. Instead, he has another idea.

"I do plan on still going up there and a member of the Forest Service is supposed to be there with me, as well. So hopefully they'll be able to get some answers to some of their questions," he answered.

Judge Anderson said he has a vision for the road to help sight-seers and even bring a little money back to the area.

"You can actually drive out to a natural arch," he explained, "which enables people that have handicaps or disabilities to drive right to that natural arch."

"I do not want the road closed," said Charles Booth, who loves to off-road in the area.

Booth said he remembers a time when this was the spot to travel to and was known for it's "Jeep Jamboree."

"This is a poverty stricken area, so we need the income."

That's what Anderson is standing up for, and he hopes to straighten out this debate saying, "We can play this game but I think there's a right way."

Anderson said the road would be county maintained.


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