BY LEANN DILBECK –
The Ouachita ATV Club wants the public to know that the Wolf Pen Gap trail system has not been affected by the government shutdown. According to Pam Ferguson of the organization, “The shut-down is for designated recreational areas only and Wolf Pen is not officially designated as such.”
This is much welcomed news for a community, who like others across the nation, is grappling with the federal closure. ATV tourism is a major economic driver to the local rural community. Thousands travel to the area from across the country for the recreation offered at Wolf Pen, bringing with them much welcomed revenue at cabin rentals, restaurants, gas, grocery, and other retail outlets.
Ferguson said that the Club has often weighed both the pros and the cons with such a designation, one “pro” being that they would receive some federal funding but the most obvious “con” is the most recent closure by the government shut-down.
“Our club provides about 75 percent of the funding for those trails…the equipment, the material being used, etc.”
Little Missouri Falls, Shady Lake and Bard Springs are examples of those areas that have been directly impacted by the closure.
Local Ranger Tim Oosterhous, who is considered “essential” and still working through the shutdown, was not able to be reached to further clarify the confusion caused for those wishing to access their public lands during this government shutdown. For more general information on Forest Service shutdown procedures, the U.S.F.S. directs the public to http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/contingency-plans/.
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