The view from atop Flatside Pinnacle overlooking the Ouachita National Forest. (Hunter Field/Arkansas Advocate)
U.S. Rep. French Hill wants Congress to approve another expansion of a wilderness area on the eastern edge of the Ouachita National Forest in Central Arkansas.
The Little Rock Republican introduced H.R. 3971, which proposes adding 2,215 acres of U.S. Forest Service land to the Flatside Wilderness Area.
The proposal is an outgrowth of a 2019 bill Hill sponsored that added 600 acres to the wilderness area and directed the Forest Service to study the addition of more land.
“Arkansans and visitors should enjoy the amazing landscape our great state has to offer,” Hill said in a statement. “In 2019, my bill, the Flatside Wilderness Enhancement Act, added over 600 acres to Flatside Wilderness, known as Bethune Woods. In 2019, I also commissioned a study of all possible qualifying additions to Flatside.
The Flatside Wilderness area sits near the Ouachita National Forest’s eastern boundary near the Perry and Saline county line.
The 223-mile Ouachita National Recreation Trail runs through it, and it includes a popular, 1,550-foot-high rock outcropping called Flatside Pinnacle that overlooks the Ouachita Mountains.
Federally designated wilderness enjoys the highest level of government land protection. The designation bars permanent roads, motorized equipment, cars, bicycles and permanent structures.
Congress has set aside more than 109 million acres of wilderness, and Arkansas has roughly 153,000 acres — the 19th most in the U.S..
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