Campers rally for overnight use at Albert Pike

Albert Pike (KATV) - Four years after the deadly flood, Albert Pike campers gather to preserve the camp ground. On June 10, 2010 campers at Albert Pike were caught off guard by a flash flood. That part of the Ouachita National Forest is so remote, no one heard the warning. By June 11, the flood had killed 20 people. Saturday, at least 175 people gathered at Albert Pike to share childhood memories, and sign a petition to show the U.S. Forest Service how badly campers want to stay overnight in well manicured campgrounds. "We're going into our fifth year since this tragedy," said Langley resident, Launa Simmons. Today, Albert Pike's amenities are vacant and unused. The bathrooms are boarded up, hiking trails are overgrown and no camper is allowed to stay overnight. "We leave when it's time to leave," said Alan Lisemby, "I just wish we could come up and spend the night. I miss it and know a lot of other people do to." Saturday's rally was organized by Kay New, New collected almost 200 signatures to ask the Forest Service to maintain the overgrown areas and allow camping overnight. New says the Forest Service told her they couldn't re-open due to multiple pending lawsuits. Those at Saturday's rally are calling on the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism to take over Albert Pike. "Whatever the Forest Service feels they have to do, whether it's install a warning system or more signs, let's get some decision made and get this place reopened for overnight camping," said Simmons. Meanwhile, while Lisemby reminisced about camping with his family at Albert Pike, he separated himself from the rally and carried a clay pot to the Little Missouri River. By her request, Lisemby spread his mother's ashes in the river. "This was like heaven on earth for mom, and all of us just loved camping here," said Lisemby. The U.S. Forest Service couldn't be reached in time for the publishing of this story.