Work is being done to improve the parking area and grounds adjacent to one of several historic buildings at the U.S. Forest Service Mark Twain National Forest (MTNF) Houston/Rolla/Cedar Creek district ranger station on U.S. 63 in Houston.
District ranger Kimberly Bittle said the project involves removing old, rotting crossties that made up the wall in front of the parking area and replacing them with concrete blocks, as well as improving the stairway leading to and from the parking area and adding walkways to the building’s entrances.
The parking area is also being enlarged to allow more room for pulling in and backing out.
Bittle said bids for the project were sought through a posting on a federal website, and work was awarded to Cahills Construction, of Salem, which bid $58,000. Funding for the work comes from the MTNF budget for facilities and maintenance.
“We’ve been wanting to do this for about three years, and this year they gave the go-ahead,” Bittle said, “It’s really going to look nice and go well with the appearance of the old building. And the crossties falling out had become a safety issue. They’re being replaced by something that will last.”
Preserving 1,500,000 acres in southern Missouri, the MTNF occupies acreage in 29 counties (more than any other National Forest). Oregon County tops the acreage list with about 105,000, while Texas County ranks 17th with close to 50,000.
Headquartered in Rolla, the MTNF is made up of 11 geographically separate pieces of land, which are divided into six different ranger districts. The 207,000-acre Houston/Rolla/Cedar Creek district is split into two units – Cedar Creek to the north of Interstate 44 and Houston/Rolla to the south – and covers parts of seven counties (Boone, Callaway, Laclede, Phelps, Pulaski, Texas and Wright). The district’s main offices are on South Sam Houston Blvd. in Houston.
The district ranger station in Houston is made up of several limestone buildings constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s and 1940s that are on the National Register of Historic Places.
Bittle said the project should be completed in about a week.