National Forest managers are proposing to make changes in the long-term management and use of the Albert Pike Recreation Area in Montgomery County, Ark. Public involvement in the proposed changes is essential, according to a U.S. Forest Service release.

The area has been under close scrutiny since 20 campers died in a flash flood there in June 2010.

“We have initiated scoping under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which means we want to hear from the public regarding what we are proposing, any concerns or comments about the proposal and any alternatives to what we are proposing,” stated Gloria Chrismer, district ranger for the Caddo-Womble Ranger District. “We look forward to having a productive dialogue with members of the public as we move forward with planning for the future of Albert Pike Recreation Area.”

The Forest Service proposal is as follows at Albert Pike:

  • Overnight use below the 100-year flood elevation would not be permitted anywhere in the Albert Pike Recreation Area.
  • Loop A: Reroute the access road to improve pedestrian safety (maintain as day use only).
  • Loop B: Day use only.
  • Loop C: Day Use Only. New interpretive signs to reflect day use only would be installed; the bathhouse will be “closed until long-term needs are determined.
  • Loop D: Decommission (remove all remaining structures and facilities except gate and road to the river; day use only).

The Proposed Action for the long-term future of Albert Pike is based on new information and changed circumstances, including these three major factors:

  • The Forest Service now has better data on the flood susceptibility of the traditional campground loops.
  • After a thorough review, the Forest Service has concluded that flood warning systems are not a viable approach to alleviate the risk of flash flooding.
  • It is reasonable to conclude that day-time recreation poses a much lower risk from flash flooding than overnight camping.

“I invite the public to participate in this project. Until a final decision is made, the Proposed Action is just that — a proposal,” stated Chrismer. “Comments submitted will help forest managers identify additional issues, and these will be used to formulate alternatives to this proposal.”

Interested citizens are encouraged to respond to the proposal and to suggest reasonable alternatives. Please submit comments to: Ouachita National Forest, Albert Pike Project, P.O. Box 1270, Hot Springs, Arkansas 71902 or email to:[email protected] Please specify that your comments concern “Albert Pike” or “APRA.

To obtain a copy of the proposal or to be added to the Albert Pike Recreation Area Project mail list, contact Caroline Mitchell at (501) 321-5318 or via email at [email protected] For additional information, log on to www.fs.usda.gov/ouachita or call (501) 321-5202.