JACKSON COUNTY, Mo. - You know you're close when you spot the broken porta-potty.
A little more than 100 yards into the woods along the eastern bank of Longview Lake, large pieces of what looks like trash begin to sprout from the tall grass.
Then, in the path, a giant metal pipe, rusted orange, marks the entry into what a Jackson County official calls an "outside storage area" for construction materials.
The overgrown site, perhaps 40 yards long and accessible only by foot, contains piles of rotting timber and rusting metal, along with stacks of chain link fencing and at least two battered pay phones.
PHOTOS | Storage site pile-up at Longview Lake - http://bit.ly/10Sb6nO
A viewer alerted 41 Action News to the site, fearing illegal dumping. But Jackson County Parks Director Michele Newman said the site is necessary to help keep more heavily-trafficed areas of the park pristine.
"We are one of the largest county parks systems in the nation, therefore daily we have construction jobs, renovation jobs, daily maintenance," Newman said in an interview Friday. "Therefore we have outside storage areas. And this is one of the outside storage areas for the park system. That basically helps us reuse and recycle as we do these maintenance jobs."
Newman said crews had reclaimed chain link fencing from the site this spring, and a Jackson county official said that workers occasionally move material from there to the dump as well.
With a parks department maintenance facility less than a half mile away, we asked Newman why the material was left laying haphazardly in the woods, rather than stacked with other supplies there.
Newman only said that facility is "well-utilized" and is used for major construction projects.
Newman also defended the secluded site as not dangerous or an eyesore, given its location, and as part of the cost of a manicured and well-maintained park system.
"It's one of those situations where you have a behind the scenes in order to keep a 21,000 acre park system as pristine as this is," she said.