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State deal to acquire more land for hiking near Pinnacle Mountain, explained

by Arkansas Democrat-Gazette , Nyssa Kruse | June 24, 2021 at 10:46 a.m.
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/KAREN E. SEGRAVE --12/18/12 -- Light smoke billows from the west side of Pinnacle Mountain on Tuesday afternoon. A portion of Pinnacle Mountain was under a controlled burn and the smoke could be seen for miles.

This story is a part of The Article, your guide to Arkansas news and culture, presented by the Democrat-Gazette. Sign up for The Article's twice-weekly newsletter at arkansasonline.com/emails/thearticle or to see stories that have appeared in past newsletters, go to arkansasonline.com/thearticle.

Arkansas officials on Monday announced the purchase of about 450 acres of land in Pulaski County for conservation and recreational use, a deal that brings the third and final peak in the Maumelle Pinnacles chain under state stewardship.

The state also announced an agreement to put Lake Sylvia Recreation Area and Camp Ouachita under the state parks system.

What are the details of the land purchase?

The 459-acre tract includes Blue Mountain, the third and final peak in the chain of Maumelle Pinnacles that includes Pinnacle Mountain and Rattlesnake Ridge.

It was purchased from PotlatchDeltic, a Spokane, Wash.-based timberland real estate investment trust, by the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission and The Nature Conservancy for about $5 million.

Go here to see a map of where the land tract is located » arkansasonline.com/624bluemountain.

Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission Director Bill Holimon said The Nature Conservancy, a nonprofit, raised about $1 million for the purchase and that the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission contributed nearly $4 million.

About half of the $4 million is expected to be reimbursed through a federal grant from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, Holimon said.

How will the land be used?

Holimon said the commission plans to work on foot and bike trails, as well as a parking lot, which he expects to be complete by fall 2022.

Before that, he said, the commission will have surveys done to ensure that any recreation doesn't damage the ecosystem.

The area contains a rare natural community called the Ouachita Mountain Sandstone Outcrop Barrens, a grassland habitat that occurs atop the mountain ridges.

What’s up with Lake Sylvia Recreation Area and Camp Ouachita?

Lake Sylvia Recreation Area is a federal site with swimming, hiking and camping, and Camp Ouachita is the only surviving Girl Scout camp constructed by the New Deal-era Works Progress Administration in the nation. Both are in Perry County.

The state parks department signed a memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Forest Service that will allow the state to operate the Lake Sylvia Recreation Area and Camp Ouachita as a unit of Pinnacle Mountain State Park.

Pinnacle Mountain State Park doesn't have campgrounds, and the Lake Sylvia area isn't open year-round. Gov. Asa Hutchinson said the agreement will allow the state to offer expanded recreation opportunities and amenities at the two sites.

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