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US Forest Service conducting environmental analysis at Albert Pike Recreational Area

HOT SPRINGS The USDA Forest Service will conduct an environmental analysis using the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process to determine the future use of the Albert Pike Recreation Area. 

The environmental analysis will carefully consider the physical environment of the site, consider public health and safety issues, analyze potential liability risks, and will provide multiple opportunities for productive public engagement. 

Two of the four loops have been closed and overnight camping has not been allowed at Albert Pike since a flash flood killed 20 people at and around the campground in June 2010. 

“To ensure visitor safety, the entire area will remain closed to overnight camping during the analysis and decision-making process,” said Chris Ham, Recreation and Planning staff officer on the Ouachita National Forest. 

The use of the NEPA process will allow the Forest Service to make a well-informed decision on the future use of Albert Pike. The process will involve considering the physical environment of the site, the current and historic hydrologic status of the area, assessing the potential use of emergency detection and warning systems, and the opinions and comments of the public and other stakeholders. 

The environmental analysis will allow feedback from the public and other stakeholders, along with a thorough understanding of public safety and liability risks, that will help make the best decision for the future use of Albert Pike. 

The environmental analysis is scheduled to begin late autumn 2019. For more information on the Ouachita National Forest, visit https://www.fs.usda.gov/ouachita. 

A renewed interest in camping at Albert Pike has resurfaced recently with supporters of overnight camping gathering at the park July 27.

Congressman Bruce Westerman has shown interest in the cause, holding a public meeting this week in Glenwood to discuss the issue.

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