Expansion of central Arkansas offerings underway with two new outdoor destinations
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (June 21, 2021) – Governor Asa Hutchinson announced today a new Arkansas Office of Outdoor Recreation, which will exist under the leadership of Secretary Stacy Hurst and in the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism (ADPHT). ADPHT also announced a new outdoor recreation offering in Pulaski County with the purchase of Blue Mountain and the signing of an agreement between ADPHT and the U.S. Forest Service to explore opportunities to work together toward a historic property lease for Arkansas State Parks to manage the Lake Sylvia Recreation Area.
“The Office of Outdoor Recreation provides critically needed support as we look to expand our recreational opportunities in Arkansas and contribute to the state’s tourism value,” said Governor Asa Hutchinson. “These new outdoor recreation offerings illustrate the many opportunities at hand.”
The Arkansas Office of Outdoor Recreation is tasked with identifying, developing, and executing collaborative opportunities to bring together interested stakeholders to promote the state, its unique natural resources, and opportunities to experience the complete range of recreational experiences including fishing, trail activities, cycling, and more.
“If there’s one thing the pandemic has made clear, it’s that people need the freedom of the outdoors for their health, quality of life, and peace of mind, and it helps attract businesses and families to create thriving, livable communities,” said Stacy Hurst, secretary of ADPHT. “I am looking forward to working with this team to enhance the state’s economy and offerings for the public.”
The office will be responsible for collecting and analyzing data (and developing metrics) that reflect the impact of outdoor recreation on the state’s economy and to inform decision-making for driving the continued development of recreational opportunities, such as the two additions announced today. This new office will work with state and federal agencies, businesses, nonprofits, and other interested stakeholders on all matters related to outdoor recreation in Arkansas.
Blue Mountain is the last remaining mountain in the chain of Maumelle Pinnacles, which includes central Arkansas’s beloved Pinnacle Mountain and Rattlesnake Ridge. It was purchased from PotlatchDeltic, by the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission (ANHC) in partnership with The Nature Conservancy (TNC). ANHC utilized state and federal funding (Land and Water Conservation Fund and Natural and Cultural Resource Trust Fund) to bring this offering to Arkansans with impactful support from private funding and TNC. Conserving this land protects drinking water from the Little Maumelle River that runs through the area and adds to a 12,000-acre conservation and recreation corridor, further increasing the appeal of this site to visitors and locals, as well as prospective businesses.
ADPHT has signed a memorandum of understanding with the USDA US Forest Service committing to work collaboratively toward a historic property lease for Arkansas State Parks to take over management of Lake Sylvia Recreation Area and Camp Ouachita, located in Perry County, from the Ouachita National Forest. The property would be a unit of Pinnacle Mountain State Park. Once completed, a Historic Property Lease would enable Arkansas State Parks to manage both sites providing the public year-round access to Lake Sylvia Recreation Area and working to ensure the availability and longevity of Camp Ouachita, the only surviving Girl Scout Camp constructed by the Works Progress Administration.