(NORMAN, AR) Around 60 people attended the Save Camp Albert Pike Rally on Saturday to make a plea to the U.S. Forest Service to reopen the site to overnight camping. The visitors from Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas shared stories of family vacations and memories of visiting the site in their youth. Marty Walker of Daingerfield, Texas is the organizer of the effort and started visiting the campgrounds in the 1960s.
A deadly flood swept the campgrounds in June of 2010 and the campgrounds has only been open for day use since its reopening in 2014. In June of 2018, the federal 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the government and landowners cannot be sued for allowing public use of their property, unless they had prior knowledge of a hazardous situation.
Walker says a flood warning system could easily be installed and is requesting that the U.S. Forest Service reopen Albert Pike campgrounds to overnight camping. He addressed the group near the main swimming area at the campgrounds.
Walker also presented an idea that if the USFS did not wish to maintain the area, that the state parks system might be another option. He pointed out several facility upgrades, located on the East side of the road, that have been closed or never repaired.
Norman, Arkansas Mayor Roseanna Markham also attended the event and is also in favor of overnight camping, saying the closure has hurt local businesses.
A petition of over 1500 signatures to reopen the campsite has also been submitted to the USFS.