After a June 11 flash flood along the Little Missouri River in Arkansas took the lives of 20 campers, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack called on the U.S. Forest Service for a visitor safety report. That report has been released and commits the Forest Service to increase its accountability, oversight, and monitoring of public safety issues nationwide. The agency will develop an action plan responsive to the safety report by Nov. 30, 2010.
Based on the Forest Service report, the following national actions are being taken: The agency will implement a comprehensive safety communication strategy to ensure visitors have information needed to make decisions about their recreation activities; Individual facilities will improve their emergency response and evacuation plans, including training exercises and post-incident actions; and Training on visitor safety for employees and volunteers will be expanded.
Senator Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., Chairman of the Senate Ag Committee says she plans on introducing legislation when Congress returns to require the Forest Service to keep the Congress updated on the steps they are taking to improve visitor safety.