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Fort Smith, MT -- Due to concerns expressed by a variety of stakeholders, Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area will delay the scheduled improvements to the Afterbay Dam North River Access and the 3-Mile River Ranch Access, according to park Superintendent Jerry Case.
"We heard people's concerns loud and clear when we announced Monday that we were going to close these facilities for safety improvements and upgrades. We will postpone the construction and work with the public to identify strategies to minimize disruption to anglers and visitors. In the meantime, we will hold public meetings on the improvement project to ensure that stakeholders' concerns are heard before the project is resumed."
The project represents the first major improvements to the two sites since the park was created in 1968. Since the sites were originally built, use by anglers and other visitors had dramatically increased. The two sites now support a high volume of traffic and are used by large recreational vehicles with trailers hauling boats. This has caused safety problems with vehicles sliding into the river at the ramp facilities and becoming stuck in ditches alongside the sites. In addition, parking is difficult and could be dangerous for all vehicles. As currently constructed, the launch ramps are subject to erosion, deteriorating road surfaces and flooding.
Both sites will be improved as part of the project, and the Afterbay access will be paved. Paving has to take place during warmer months of the year. In addition, the park will replace the leaking vault toilet at the Afterbay site. Under a normal construction schedule, project construction could take up to five weeks at each site.
The park will notify the public soon regarding dates and times for public meetings on the project. The park is committed to improving the quality and safety of park visitor services.