Trails in Ouachita National Forest in jeopardy
A group of businesses from Mena, Ark. held a rally on Saturday, Mar. 13 to raise money to appeal a ruling from the National Forest Service that restricts ATV use in the Ouachita National Forest.
The new rules in the forest would restrict ATV use by 90 percent – including closing the popular Wolf Pen Gap area in Mena for much of the year. Wolf Pen Gap draws thousands of visitors to the area every year, bringing much needed tourism dollars to local businesses.
“All we’ve ever asked the forest service from the get go is just give us the opportunity to fix it,” area business owner Jeff Cunningham told 5 News. “Don’t shut us down, give us a chance to fix it.”
According to Tom Kiser, who owns an ATV dealership in Mena, the closing of the trails would affect the whole city.
“Tourism is the only thing we have because we don’t have a lot of industry,” Kiser tells 5 News. “We have probably in the neighborhood of 45 to 47 businesses that are directly impacted by this.”