Investigation

Apr 2, 2013 6:08 PM

Powell County Judge Executive and U.S. Division of Forestry Wrangling Over Closed Road

A dispute between the Powell County Judge Executive and the U.S. Division of Forestry is creating a stir in the Daniel Boone National Forest. Both are claiming a stretch of closed road in the forest is theirs.

Big Bend Road is a little bumpy, but if you follow it through Wolfe County for a few miles, there's an interesting fork in the road. To the left is an area where you're more likely to hear nature than the tires of a car. But that could change.

"I don't see why our economy, our citizens, have to wait any longer," says Powell County Judge Executive James Anderson.

Seven years ago the U.S. Division of Forestry closed off Sand Lick Road in the Daniel Boone National Forest to vehicles, citing concern for wildlife. Anderson wants the road back open for off-roading and other vehicles, and claims the road belongs to the counties. He says last Tuesday, with permission from the Wolfe County Judge Executive, he instructed road crews to fill the road back in. In the process, they removed the footbridge.

"I would not take any action unless I believed I was justified and had the authority to do so," says Anderson.

The Forestry Division took action too. Over the weekend they put the boulders back on the trail to block it to vehicles, and they carved a trench. Hikers struggling to get across now face unexpected challenges due to the wrangling.

"I think there should be a separate trail for people who just want to walk, so they don't have to worry about getting run over," says Derek Stivers, a hiker.

Local James Newkam enjoys hiking and off-roading. He's a four-wheeler enthusiast who moved to Kentucky in part because he was drawn by the adventure toursim.

"A lot of the state dollars come to Kentucky to ride these trails around here. It's a destination, and they keep choking it down," says Newkam.

But while he wants to ATV on Sand Lick Road, he says he sees both sides.

"[The Sheltowee Trace] is one of the prides of Kentucky. Kentucky's longest foot trail," says Newkam.

At 6:30 pm, a spokesperson with the U.S. Division of Forestry told LEX18 their attornies are working with the Commonwealth of Kentucky and Powell County to resolve the dispute.

Anderson met with forest rangers Tuesday, and originally told LEX18 he planned to open up the road Wednesday at 9:00 am, but before our story aired he told us new developments have come to light, and he will not be taking action yet.

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