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Officials: Okhissa roadwork on track

A U.S. Forest Service official Wednesday reported good progresson roadwork being done around a new recreational lake underdevelopment near Bude.

The Federal Highway Administration last month awarded a contractto Eutaw Construction Co., of Aberdeen, and issued a notice toproceed with work on the Lake Okhissa project. The contractinvolves construction of about two miles of interior roads and turnlanes on Highway 98.

“They’re doing quite a bit in the interior part, not so much on98 yet,” said U.S. Forest Service Public Affairs Officer Mary BellLunsford, mentioning culvert installation currently under way.”It’s coming along really well.”

Lunsford expected turn lane work to begin later this month.Forest service officials have urged motorists to exercise cautionwhen traveling around the work area.

The road construction contract will go through spring 2006.

Lunsford said another five miles of road need to be built beforethe recreational lake is scheduled to open in 2007.

“We don’t have the funding for all the roads,” said Lunsford,adding it would have to work its way through the forest serviceappropriations process.

An observation area for visitors to watch the water level in therecreational lake was closed in September. Lunsford indicated thecurrent road work would continue to impact the observationarea.

“Part of the road they’re building now goes there,” Lunsfordsaid. “It won’t be open for a bit.”

Lunsford said the water level at the lake continues to rise andsome fish have been added. Stocking is being done on apredator-prey strategy.

“We won’t be doing any more fish stocking until the fall,”Lunsford said.

Lunsford said catfish, bream, bass, red ear and a species ofminnows have been stocked. Still to be stocked are crappie and morebass.

Other lake-related activities are also going on.

“We’re trying to get ready for October when we have ourcelebration,” Lunsford said.

Lunsford said the event, scheduled for Oct. 8, will feature asymbolic turning over of the dam from the Natural ResourcesConservation Services to the Forest Service. She added thecelebration also will be the first public viewing of the dam insome time.

The dam is 97.1-feet high. Forest service officials said it willbe the tallest dam in the state when completed.