Recreation Changes at Ouachita National Forest


Sportsman columnist Bryan Hendricks covered the topic of campsite closings in
the Ouachita National Forest in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette today. 
I am including the full news release
below to help spread the word to those planning outdoor ventures.


“Most Ouachita developed
campgrounds are now open and ready for visitors, however, we wanted to make the
public aware of some changes effective May 30, 2012,” announced Forest
Supervisor Norman Wagoner.

While recreation
opportunities at most developed recreation areas on the forest remain the same
as in previous years, some Ouachita National Forest developed recreation areas
will be closed to overnight use on an interim basis. Concerns for public safety
have prompted the Ouachita National Forest to close campsites or entire
campgrounds that are known to flood or have the potential to flood, pending
further study.  Day use will still be allowed in these areas.


“Visitor safety is a
very high priority,” said Forest Supervisor, Norman Wagoner, “These changes are
necessary to allow us time to analyze and mitigate risks in flood prone areas.
It is also important for visitors to be aware of these changes when planning
their recreation and trips to the Ouachita National Forest.”


Visitors need to be
aware of potential changes at several recreational areas. Forest Service
Recreation Program Manager, Chris Ham states, “In those areas changed to day
use only, swimming, picnicking, fishing, hiking and other day use activities
are still allowed, typically from 6 a.m. – 8 p.m., unless posted otherwise. The
Ouachita National Forest has 13 campgrounds, with 356 campsites available for
the public.”


Following are the areas
where changes will occur until further analysis can be completed:

Ouachita National Forest

  • Bard Springs – Polk County: Four campsites in
    low-lying areas closed for overnight use, open to day use only. There are other
    sites at this campground that are available for overnight use.
  • Bear Creek Horse Camp – Garland County: open for
    day use only,
    closed for overnight use.
  • Big Brushy – Polk County: closed for overnight
    use, day use only.
  • Charlton– Garland County: Loop B and Loop C:
    closed to overnight use. Loop A – remains open for overnight use. Day use area
    will be open. 
  • Knopper’s Ford – Scott County: 6 sites in low
    lying areas closed for overnight use, day use only. Sites on higher ground, within
    existing picnic area, near the toilets, are open for overnight use for
    tent camping.
  • Lake Sylvia – Perry County: Loop A, sites 12-17
    would be closed to overnight use, open for day use only.  The remainder of the area
    remains open.
  • Ouachita River Float Camps in Montgomery County:
    Dragover, River Bluff, Rocky Shoals, Fulton and Shirley Creek are day use only.
  • Shady Lake – Polk County: 13 sites in low-lying
    areas closed for overnight use, day
    use only
    . 66 sites remain open for overnight use.

Ouachita National Forest

  • Cedar Lake– LeFlore County: Shady Lane Loop
    Area: closed for all use except
    foot traffic
    .  North Shore Area sites near the boat
    ramp: day use only
    Most of the remaining Cedar Lake Recreation Area will remain open for overnight use.
  • Presbyterian Falls – McCurtain County: closed
    for overnight use, day use only.

Concern over visitor
safety is the driver for campsite/campground changes. Three flash floods have
occurred in campgrounds on the Ouachita National Forest within the past two
years that resulted in loss of life, damage to facilities and/or personal
property. The three campgrounds recently impacted by flash flooding were:

  • Albert Pike Recreation Area – (Ouachita)
    Montgomery County, Arkansas – 2010
  • Cedar Lake Recreation Area – (Ouachita) Shady
    Lane Loop – LeFlore County, Oklahoma – 2011
  • Charlton Campground – (Ouachita) Garland County,
    Arkansas – 2011


While some risk is
inherent in any outdoor activity, the rapid and unpredictable nature of flash
flooding makes it particularly difficult for campers to safely escape the
danger – especially since many flash floods occur at night.  By the time
visitors realize a flash flood is occurring, it is often too late to get out of
harm’s way. 

More information is
available at  The website also has information
on tips for having a safe and enjoyable visit to your National Forest. For more
information contact the Ouachita National Forest at 501-321-5202.



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