MENA, ARK. – Ouachita National Forest managers have completed the draft environmental assessment (EA) that will help determine how Wolf Pen Gap Trail System near Mena will be managed in the future.
The analysis, now available for public review and comment, includes nine alternatives. These describe a variety of scenarios forest officials have examined since they began work to develop the management strategy for the popular 42-mile Off-highway vehicle (OHV) trail system in mid-2010.
“We’ve considered many options, worked with the public, and heard from partners,” said District Ranger Tim Oosterhous. “It’s been a long and somewhat arduous process, but one that has resulted in development of some smart options for the future of Wolf Pen Gap.”
The preferred alternative keeps the total designated routes (roads and trails) in Wolf Pen Gap at nearly 40 miles, including seasonal routes that would be open from mid-March through October 31, and includes a Thanksgiving and Christmas season. Additionally, wet weather management guidelines would be followed after rain events to prevent damage to the trail system. Other elements of the preferred alternative include improving stream crossings, installation of gates, obliteration of user-created routes, and creation of a foot trail to Hawk’s Gap Overlook.
The 30-day public comment period begins when the legal notice regarding this is published in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. Based on the information received during this comment period, as well as results from consultation with regulatory agencies, the District Ranger will select an alternative and issue a draft decision.
A 45-day objection period will be provided on the final EA and the Draft Decision Notice/Finding of No Significant Impact for members of the public who have commented in writing during the official comment period.
The alternatives and accompanying maps are available for review. They can be accessed online at www.fs.usda.gov/ouachita or obtained at the Mena Ranger District office between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Please call 479-394-2382 for further information on this project.