Friends of the Ouachita Trail president Bo Lea welcomes you to FoOTnotes! This page contains news of interest to FoOT volunteers and supporters. The “semi-occasional” entries on the page are designed to bring you up-to-date on the events and projects in which FoOT is currently engaged. A lot is happening with FoOT and we are excited about its future!
May 16, 2019 – Forest Service Proposes Open Pit Mining Operation Next to the OT – FoOT’s Follow-up Response
Tim Oosterhous, District Ranger Mena / Oden
1603 Hwy. 71 North
Mena, Arkansas 71953
Friends of the Ouachita Trail (FoOT) has reviewed the revised environmental assessment (EA) for the OQC-282 Quartz Contract for the Oden Ranger District. FoOT appreciates the Forest Service’s response and follow-up to the original EA for this project after the initial comment period. Considerable effort has been made to address the concerns presented from that first comment period.
FoOT would prefer option 3 which would maintain the status quo by not permitting the mining project in this area. With a major highway and the Ouachita Trail in the area, a mining operation would be best located elsewhere. However, we also feel option 2 with its restrictions is one we could live with. This option has several changes and restrictions that address the primary concerns FoOT put forth. Proper enforcement of the restrictive elements of the permit would be very important, if this proposal were approved.
We appreciate the efforts that have been made protect the Ouachita Trail.
President, Friends of the Ouachita Trail
April 21, 2019 – Fall Maintenance Event October 25-27, 2019
The fall maintenance event for 2019 has been set for October 25th, 26th, & 27th (Friday. – Sunday) at Queen Wilhelmina State Park. The FoOT annual meeting will be held on Friday evening at the Lodge restaurant. The State Park will again be providing camp sites for Thursday, Friday, & Saturday nights for workers. Details will be coming later but this notice is to give everyone a chance to put it on their calendars and perhaps make reservations at the lodge is they wish.
April 21, 2019 – Mountain Valley Spring Water Ouachita Trail T-Shirt
Mountain Valley Spring Water has the new summer Ouachita Trail T-shirt for sale. You can go to their website to see the t-shirt and order. The link is at the bottom of their home page. They are also available at the MVSW visitor’s center in downtown Hot Springs. District Captain, Ben Liesman, manned the FoOT table at the Ouachita Challenge and sold more than $1000 in merchandise. All the profits from the sales goes to FoOT.
April 17, 2019 – Ed and Sue Hawkins Awarded the Special Status of “Lifetime Members”
At FoOT’s 2019 Spring Board Meeting, on an unanimous vote, Ed and Sue Hawkins were given the special status of “Lifetime Members” in Friends of the Ouachita Trail. This is only the third time this honor has been presented by FoOT in its almost 20 year history. I can not think of any two people that deserve it more. Ed and Sue, your legacy of contributions to our trails, to FoOT, to the Ouachita Challenge, and to so many of us on a personal level is something we all should aspire to. We trust that this recognition as well as others over the past few weeks lets you both know how much we appreciate what you have accomplished and how we feel about working alongside you over the years.
Take care and God Bless.
Bo Lea, FoOT President & Friend
April 8, 2019 – The Passing of Ben Glazer
Ben Glazer, a long-time member of the Ouachita Mountain Hikers Club, has passed away. His family has directed gifts to FoOT in lieu of flowers.
January 7, 2019 – Forest Service Proposes Open Pit Mining Operation Next to the OT
The Forest Service is proposing to allow a 21 acre open pit quartz mining operation next to the Ouachita Trail. The comment period will end January 25, 2019. Comments should be sent to Mena District Ranger Tim Oosterhous at firstname.lastname@example.org and copy Andrew McCormick, Mena Ranger District, 1603 Hwy. 71 North, Mena, Ar. 71953 or email him at email@example.com.
CLICK HERE to view the Environmental Assessment for the project with maps showing the location as well as the Ouachita National Recreational Trail. The Ouachita Trail is not mentioned in the EA, on one map it shows just a 150′ buffer from the project. Apparently the OT was given little or no consideration in their assessment. The mine would also be just down the hill from the Hwy. 27 OT Trailhead.
The project file can be found at https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=55086. You will see the scoping doc. as well as the EA that is already attached. Please read the documents.
You would think a mining operation of this type next to a National Recreational Trail would be a non-starter. Friends of the Ouachita Trail strongly opposes what is known as the Barber Quartz Prospecting Plan. The plan calls for the removal of vegetation and top soil plus the construction of a high fence. You should note the other negative issues in the EA. After these negative environmental actions are done next to the OT then the mining begins. FoOT does not oppose the proper management of the forest resources but this is truly not one of them. With 1.3 million acres in the Ouachita National Forest is this the only 21 acres available.
Please take the time to let the Forest Service know this is not acceptable.
FoOT appreciates your interest and support. Please share this information with others that should be aware of the risk to the OT.
CLICK HERE to view FoOT’s initial response to this proposal.