Program was not offered during the previous fiscal year

Count Marion County among those anxious to rejoin a reimbursement program offered by the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) for some of the gravel county highway departments put on roads that lead into state recreation areas.

Marion County, which approved applying to participate during the commission’s June 4 meeting, had participated in the MDC’s County Deed Road Trust (CART) previously, according to Lyndon Bode, the county’s presiding commissioner.

“Last year the Department of Conservation didn’t fund it,” he said. “Since then they have re-implementing it in the 2019 budget.”

Marion County, which according to Bode has “several different conservation areas,” will be compensated for maintenance it provides to roads that access one of the MDC sites.

“Reimbursement from the Conservation Department is for gravel that we haul and put down on the county roads leading into the conservation areas,” said the presiding commissioner.

The MDC as tweaked its program this year.

“The Conservation Department is actually making up for last year when they did not have the program. They are going to allow counties to have a two-part (reimbursement) process. Usually you can only turn in one time for reimbursement,” said Bode. “By fall we will have more gravel put down and then we will re-look at it next spring. If it is needed we will put down gravel again and turn that in for reimbursement.”

Bode stressed that even when compensation was not available the county made sure that roads leading to conservation areas remained in good shape.

“We were maintaining the roads no matter what. We would probably just not put as much rock on them. With the program the roads will be highly maintained with the compensation we receive from the Conservation Department,” he said.

The program is not a big moneymaker for counties, according to Bode.

“It’s pretty well a breakeven situation,” he said. “There is no reimbursement for labor, which is fine, but there is reimbursement for the rock and the hauling of the rock.”

Bode estimates the reimbursement program meant between $12,000 and $15,000 to Marion County.

“It is a good way to bring a little bit of money back into the county and make sure the roads are in good shape for folks going to the conservation areas, too,” he said. “We definitely wanted to be back in it. It’s a good situation.”

Reach reporter Danny Henley at danny.henley@courierpost.com