Corps of Engineers Identify Arkansas Campground Closures
The Little Rock, Ark., District of the Army Corps of Engineers says “tight budgets” will lead to changes at several of its parks, including closing less-efficient facilities.
The corps plans to hold a series of public forums to discuss three proposals and to allow for citizen input beginning in February. Times and dates are still pending, but at least four meetings will be held in Arkansas in Mountain Home, Heber Springs, Russellville and Ozark, Fort Smith’s The City Wire reported.
According to a corps press release, reduced operations or closures could occur at 29 parks, including closing 13 campgrounds, four partial campgrounds, four day use areas, one partial day use area, and 10 boat ramps. Also under consideration is making the recreation season shorter at many additional parks.
U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., issued this statement about the corps plans: “As we reduce government spending, we must prioritize services and make tough budget decisions. At the same time, I know that closing these campsites is bitter news for both the families who enjoy camping and the businesses they support. I will work with the corps to ensure the system for selecting which sites to close is fair and that there are ample opportunities nearby to enjoy Arkansas’s outdoors.”
Other likely park adjustments include reducing the frequency of trash pick-up, cleaning and mowing, as well as reduced maintenance response time and fewer temporary park rangers, law enforcement agreements and contract park attendants.
The corps outlined other reduced services, such as inspections of public lands, as well as periodic lock and dam maintenance, dredging, and funding of the hydropower employee training program.
All told, the reductions and closures could save the federal agency an estimated $1.9 million in Arkansas.
“As long as a maintenance backlog exists, so does the possibility of unanticipated breakdowns, which can cause a cascading effect on the district’s operation and maintenance program. However, focusing the district’s limited dollars on priority items helps reduce the risk,” the corps release said.
Officials said last year’s natural disasters resulted in more than $33 million in damage to parks and infrastructure. Operations and maintenance funding has been reduced $17 million, the corps said. It also warned that the maintenance backlog on the Little Rock district’s top 15 needs is $68 million and growing.
“These factors are causing the district to limit the levels of service it can offer,” the agency said.
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