Mark Twain National Forest seeking feedback on recreation plan

Noble Horvath

Document: Mark Twain National Forest Draft Five-Year Recreation Facility Strategy View The United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service has extended the public comment period on a draft of its five-year Recreation Facility Strategy for Mark Twain National Forest. The public has until Oct. 17 to submit comments related to […]

Document: Mark Twain National Forest Draft Five-Year Recreation Facility Strategy

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The United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service has extended the public comment period on a draft of its five-year Recreation Facility Strategy for Mark Twain National Forest.

The public has until Oct. 17 to submit comments related to the plan, which outlines some of the changes the national forest is considering.

The Dry Fork Horse Camp, Pine Ridge Campground and Carrington Pits Picnic Site are some of the MTNF recreation sites near Fulton.

According to the draft plan, which can be found at bit.ly/3mGgYmK, the USDA is considering adding a host site at Pine Ridge for Pine Ridge and Dry Fork.

Costs associated with the campground projects include $6,750 for a septic system, water line and gravel parking pad, as well as $200 to replace the information board roof at Pine Ridge.

A camping fee is being considered for the sites. The Recreation Facility Strategy was released in May, and the plan was to begin work on proposing new fees this summer. That has been delayed to give the public more time to give feedback.

“I know COVID-19 has been impactful for everyone, so I want to give people as much opportunity as I can to be able to connect with us,” MTNF Supervisor Sherri Schwenke said in a news release.

The plan also indicates the national forest is looking for a partner to assist with maintenance at Carrington Pits Picnic Site.

If a partner comes forward, the plan includes $6,500 to replace fishing piers and repair a walkway.

But if a partner isn’t found, the site might be decommissioned and converted to a general forest area without infrastructure — this would include closing the entrance gait to prevent vehicular access.

A “general forest area” is an area that is not managed with hazard tree removal, trash collections or patrols and generally lacks fire rings, picnic tables or toilets.

The 50-plus page plan details potential changes at each of the forest’s 159 recreation sites, including campgrounds, picnic spots, trail heads, boat landings and beaches. In total, the national forest is considering decommissioning 13 sites across the state.

The goal of the plan is to provide sustainable recreation opportunities when considering current and projected financial and staffing constraints as well as visitor demand. Staff examined social, economic and environmental considerations.

“Site rankings and how/if sites are managed in the future may shift as a result of public feedback, but projected agency funding and resources will still constrain the total number of sites and services the National Forest can provide into the future,” according to an online frequently asked questions section.

Comments can be emailed to [email protected] The public can also reach out to the Houston-Rolla-Cedar Creek Ranger District at 417-967-4194 to ask questions or provide comments related to the portions of the national forest near Fulton.

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