Ozark-St. Francis National Forest Recreation Improvements Announced

Ozark-St. Francis National Forest Recreation Improvements Announced

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The Ozark-St. Francis National Forests have recently completed improvements to several recreation areas across the Forests totaling over $300,000.

The Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) has funded improvement projects addressing critical deferred maintenance issues. This legislation, passed in August 2020, is responsible for funding the deferred maintenance needs of all types of Forest Service infrastructure, including bridges, roads, trails, and recreation facilities. These investments in Forest Service infrastructure, recreation facilities, and public land access demonstrate the agency’s commitment to caring for the land and serving people.

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“GAOA funding has been crucial for much-needed – and in some cases long-overdue – repairs and upgrades to a wide range of recreational infrastructure throughout our national forests,” said Amy Burt, Planning and Public Services Staff Officer for Ozark-St. Francis National Forests. “We’re proud of the work accomplished in 2023 and look forward to completing additional projects that will help ensure our visitors have the best experience possible while connecting to nature and making memories on the Ozark-St. Francis National Forests.”

Blanchard Springs, Ozark -St. Francis National Forest.
Blanchard Springs, Ozark -St. Francis National Forest.

Recreation enhancements completed in 2023 consisted of:

  • Improvements were made to the roads and drainage system at White Rock Recreation Area. The project included clearing, grubbing, seeding, fertilizing, mulching, reconditioning of roadway and ditches, placement of speed bumps, installation of signs and culverts, and improvements to parking areas. Additionally, rock work was carried out, wheel stops were installed, and a new entrance gate was put in place. As part of the GAOA project, new steps were added to the main lodge to improve drainage and access.
  • Replacing the septic lift pumps and controls for the day-use area bathhouse at Shores Lake Recreation Area.
  • Continued site improvements at Redding Recreation Area, such as installing combination fire rings/grills, leveling site pads, and replacing waterlines for the water distribution system.
  • Repairing pavement on the Blanchard Springs Accessible Trail on the Sylamore-St. Francis Ranger District. The trail is the only accessible pathway to Blanchard Springs, which is the water source that created the underground cavern network of Blanchard Springs Caverns. This project replaced uneven and broken expansion joints, replaced the missing rocks along the border wall, and repaired the observation deck at the springs’ outlet.

“We’re excited about the important work being planned and executed through GAOA,” said Robert Duggan, Recreation Program Manager for the Ozark-St. Francis National Forests. “We hope our visitors will explore the improved recreation areas and see how this significant legislation is benefiting both the forests and the communities.

For more information on the Great American Outdoors Act and related projects, visit https://www.fs.usda.gov/managing-land/gaoa. For complete Great American Outdoors Act text, visit https://www.congress.gov/116/plaws/publ152/PLAW-116publ152.pdf.

See also  Arkansas State Parks and the US Forest Service Recommendations on Viewing the Eclipse

(Lead photo of White Rock Recreation Area, Ozark-St. Francis National Forest, courtesy of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism.)

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