Arkansas Congressman Bruce Westerman said he’ll introduce a bill to develop a campground near or in the Albert Pike Recreation Area.
According to a report, 20 people were killed in the area in flash flooding in 2010.
On December 16, the U.S. Forest Service announced that camping overnight will not be available at Albert Pike, which is situated along the Little Missouri River in a remote and rugged part of the Ouachita National Forest. It is located about 50 miles to the west of Hot Springs.
Instead, the recreation area will be open for daytime use only.
Westerman expressed disappointment with the decision.
“While I understand the overly cautious nature of federal agencies, and I’m pleased USFS at least plans to implement the easiest and most risk-averse option which is day use, I’m very disappointed in their decision to announce permanent closure of the Albert Pike Recreation Area for overnight camping,” Westerman said in a text message.
“The tragic events due to the flash flooding in 2010 were horrific, and we empathize with those who lost loved ones,” he said. “However, I have heard an overwhelming response from constituents who want to redevelop the site in a way that allows safe overnight camping well above the highest flood plain levels, which is certainly possible with the topography in the area.”
Westerman said he shared his opinion to Forest Service representatives and visited the recreation area with them in order to address the concerns.
“I plan to introduce legislation to provide congressional authorization and to remove obstacles within USFS for a new outdoor recreation facility with overnight camping above the flood plain at Albert Pike,” he said.
Westerman explained that the proposed camping area could be funded through the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA), the Land and Water Conservation Fund, as well as other agency funds or Congress-appropriated funds.
The official wishes for a new campground with facilities like utility hookups for recreational vehicles. The possibility of a new campground to be constructed within the existing borders of the Albert Pike Recreation Area is yet to be determined, according to him. The congressman’s staff is studying the matter.
The Albert Pike Recreation Area is located in Arkansas‘ Fourth Congressional District, which Westerman represents.