Forest Service proposes to improve and manage recreation in Pinnacles Area of the Buffalo Gap National Grassland
Public invited to comment on proposed changes to popular dispersed camping area
Wall, SD, May 13, 2022 – Camping at the popular Pinnacles Area of the Buffalo Gap National Grassland would see potential improvements and increased management under a Forest Service Proposed Action released today for public comment.
The Pinnacles Dispersed Recreation Project was initiated earlier this year to address growing challenges with unmanaged dispersed camping in the 723-acre Rimrock Pasture, located six miles south of Wall along South Dakota Highway 240. Set along the edge of the Badlands Wall, the area has become known worldwide for its rugged beauty. A dramatic rise in overnight visitation in recent years has created issues with damage to light-duty roads, prohibited off-road travel, crowding, and problems with health, safety, and wildfires.
Under the Proposed Action, the Forest Service would establish approximately 70 designated campsites along existing roads, and camping would be restricted to these designated sites. Road improvements, parking areas, signage, and informational kiosks are also planned. Open fires would be prohibited for safety reasons. Previously-disturbed areas would be rehabilitated, and livestock watering facilities installed to support continued grazing by permittees. Implementation of the action is expected to begin in spring 2023.
“The Pinnacles Area is a unique and beloved recreation destination, and our goal is to ensure this treasured landscape retains the scenic and ecological qualities which draw thousands of visitors each year,” acting Wall District Ranger Patrick Champa said.
The Proposed Action also includes adaptive management features which would support potential changes in visitor demand and protect wildlife habitat based upon monitoring of the area. The number of campsites may be increased and vault toilets installed if camper demand warrants. Conversely, the number of sites may be decreased if adverse effects to bighorn sheep populations, livestock grazing, or excessive erosion are documented.
A complete copy of the Proposed Action can be reviewed on the Internet at http://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=61608. Interested members of the public are invited to submit comments for the Pinnacles Dispersed Recreation scoping process by June 13, 2022; particularly helpful comments would include specific changes or additions with corresponding actions or solutions. Comments can be submitted via the Internet at http://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=61608; e-mailed to email@example.com; mailed to Buffalo Gap National Grassland, Wall Ranger District, Attn: Patrick Champa, 710 Main St./P.O. Box 425, Wall, SD 57790; or phoned to (605) 279-2126 ext. 206. Comments received during the scoping period will assist in identifying issues of concern in developing alternatives.
The Pinnacles Dispersed Recreation Project Environmental Assessment and Draft Decision Notice are expected to be available for review in winter 2022 and the Final Decision Notice is expected in spring 2023.
–U.S. Forest Service
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