The U.S. Forest Service has made a decision on how to proceed with the rehabilitation of Mark Twain National Forest’s Red Bluff Recreation Area.
This campground and water day-use area is located along Huzzah Creek, near Davisville, in Crawford County, Missouri.
The premise for the Red Bluff Safety and Rehabilitation Project is based on the fact that devastating flood events occur along Huzzah Creek on a 2-3 year cycle.
For example, high water has resulted in rock-covered campground loops, loss of nearly 30 percent of the campsites, and damage to roads and restroom facilities.
After the spring 2017 flood, the Federal Highways Administration made a decision to work with the Forest Service to fund and move sections of the main camping loop roads (Forest Road 2011) out of the 100-year floodplain and reconstruct them on higher ground.
This created an opportunity for the Forest Service to move overnight camping out of the 100-year floodplain and construct new campsites along the new segments of Forest Road 2011.
Campers, neighbors and other interested members of the public participated in the design of new facilities by providing valuable information about their camping and day-use preferences at Red Bluff.
The comments received were used to develop the final design and proposal. The Forest Service completed the environmental analysis for the project in February.
The Forest Service’s final decision includes the following:
• Pines Overlook camping loop will remain in its current location. Based on public comments, campsites will remain non-electric. Pines Overlook would have up to one double and seven single campsites.
• An overlook platform would be constructed to offer safe viewing of the beautiful Huzzah Creek and red bluffs.
• One new segment of Forest Road 2011 will become the South Loop. There would be up to one double and 19 single campsites, a restroom, and a shower facility.
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• Another segment of the new Forest Road 2011 will be divided into the Group Loop and the North Loop. Nine double campsites will be constructed in the Group Loop, along with a restroom.
Up to 22 single and two double campsites would be built along the North Loop, with a restroom, and shower facility. A fee-for-use RV dump station could be constructed near the North Loop.
• A host campsite would be placed along the South Loop, with a secondary host site at the entrance to the North Loop. A new electrified picnic pavilion would be constructed where the current host site is located.
Some campers expressed a desire to have non-electric options, especially for tent campers. Because of that, some sites in the South Loop, North Loop, and Group Loop would be non-electric.
• Another comment heard loud and clear is the desire for space and vegetative screening between campsites and adjacent private land to promote privacy.
While a maximum number of 63 sites have been planned, the actual number of sites in each loop will be based on conditions found during design layout and construction, specifically related to slope, existing shade, privacy, safety considerations, accessibility, and other factors.
It is reasonable to expect 40 to 63 campsites at Red Bluff when all is said and done.
At this time, there is funding from the Federal Highways Administration Betterment Fund to construct the new segments of Forest Road 2011 in 2018-2019. On-the-ground road work could begin in summer 2018.
Funding has not been received for the construction of camping spurs, restrooms, shower facilities, or dump station. It is possible that construction of the new camping facilities could occur in stages and over a period of more than one year.
Therefore, the Forest Service will keep the campsites in the existing upper and lower camping loops open until the new camping loops are completed.
The long-term goal of the project is to remove facilities located within the 100-year floodplain and restore the floodplain to a functioning state, while incorporating light-on-the-land day-use amenities to ensure visitors continue to have a connection to Huzzah Creek.
Additional public involvement to discuss future day-use plans will occur when the Forest Service receives the final flood inundation survey maps, later in 2018 or possibly in 2019. Until then, the existing picnic pavilion will remain open.
(Becky Ewing is the district ranger for the Mark Twain National Forest, Potosi-Fredericktown Ranger District. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.)