The roads in question are ones currently closed to public access. Sandhills State Forest owns and maintains the roads, but local state legislators are now arguing that the roads are still owned by citizens of the state.
Because of that, state legislators have set up an advisory committee to meet and vote next Thursday about which roads should be opened and closed at the forest.
"As far as I'm concerned, this is still public land, and I think the public deserves the right to have a say in what's going on there," Rep. Ted Vick, who chairs the Forestry Advisory Committee, said.
In 2003, Sandhills State Forest officials blocked certain roads from public use to protect its pine straw from thieves. The State Forest earns several hundred thousand dollars a year from selling pine straw.
The decision to limit public access came to the chagrin of many hunters and other forest users who were either banned from certain areas of the forest or forced to walk to hunting grounds.
After a series of meetings in 2003, Forestry Commission officials agreed to reopen several roads using a permit system that requires occupants of the roads to purchase a $2 permit providing information about who they are and why they are in that particular part of the state forest.
Forest officials stood strong, however, on maintaining some roads remain shut off for protection of its pine straw industry.
"Sandhills State Forest is totally self supporting and pine straw sales making up a majority of our revenues," Sandhills State Forest Director Forest Murphy said. "We decided to close these (certain) roads to keep our pine straw from illegally walking off."
For more information on this story, please read the Sept. 22, 2005 edition of the Cheraw Chronicle/Chesterfield Advertiser.