WASHINGTON — Congressman Bruce Westerman (AR-04) has introduced the “Ouachita National Forest Overnight Camping Act” to reopen overnight camping at Albert Pike Recreation Area in the Ouachita National Forest.
The Albert Pike Recreation Area was closed after a major flash flood killed 20 people on June 11, 2010. In November 2020, the Forest Service initiated a planning process to determine which facilities and infrastructure would support the uses of APRA in the future. Under the Forest Service’s final decision, no overnight camping would be permitted in APRA.
“After the Forest Service’s decision to permanently suspend all overnight camping at Albert Pike, I have heard from countless constituents who expressed their disappointment and frustration at the decision,” Westerman said in a press release Thursday.
If the bill succeeds, the Forest Service would be required to re-open any campsites outside of the 100-year flood plain within 30 days of the bill’s enactment. The bill would also identify areas in the park suitable for overnight camping within six months of its passage.
At least 54 campsites — including eight with water and electric hookups — would be developed outside that flood plain within two years of the bill’s enactment.
“Albert Pike has been enjoyed by families from Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Texas for generations,” Westerman said. “We must ensure Albert Pike is safely refitted to ensure the 2010 tragedy never occurs again, but it would be a disservice to the community to permanently ban overnight camping and deprive folks who return to Albert Pike year after year to share the experiences they had as children with their families. I look forward to working with the U.S. Forest Service to allow for safe and responsible usage for years to come.”
Read the full bill text here.
About Albert Pike Campground
The 1.8 million-acre Ouachita National Forest in Arkansas and Oklahoma is a recreation destination to hundreds of thousands of people annually. One of the most popular sites within the Ouachita National Forest is the Albert Pike Recreation Area, which features hiking, swimming, and other day uses.