North Fork Recreation Area reopens
After repeated weather delays and recent vandalism, most of the North Fork Recreation Area located on the North Fork of the White River near Dora, known locally as Hammond Access, reopened Friday, June 7.
An announcement from the Ava/Cassville/Willow Springs ranger district of the Mark Twain National Forest said the campground and a new water-play area (located in the previous day-use area near the restroom facility) opened Friday to visitors for playing in the river and also for launching canoes and kayaks. Canoe and kayak users (including outfitters and guides) will use this area to launch boats until a new launch area is completed closer to the Cudworth Memorial bridge on CC Highway, which adjoins the recreation area.
Boulders have been placed along the parking area that faces the river to deter visitors from driving down to the river’s edge, the announcement said. When striping is completed in the parking area, the ranger district will also place parking stops on the side where the picnic tables are located. Visitors are asked to keep vehicles on paved areas.
Camping is $10 per night for non-electric and $15 per night for the one available electric site. (A second electric site is reserved for the campground host.) Day-use fees are $2 per vehicle or $20 for a season pass. Visitors use a self-pay system for the camping and day-use areas, filling out a fee envelope, adding the required money and then putting the envelope in one of two fee tubes – one by the bulletin board in the day-use area and another by the bulletin board in the campground (by the first camping loop). A season pass can be obtained at the ranger district office in Ava. Call 417-683-4428 for more information.
The recreation area has been closed while repairs and improvements are made, including repaving the day-use area and building two river-access ramps to separate swim mers and those enjoying water play from those who are loading and unloading boats. The project to create the separate water accesses was first initiated in May 2015 but “experienced several unforeseen setbacks,” a recent MTNF announcement said. “The 2017 flood put the project behind schedule” and also “resulted in contract design changes and reprioritizing work to be completed, first in the day-use area of the site. Weather this past winter and spring also delayed construction efforts.”
Last week, just before the area was to reopen, MTNF reported vandalism that included graffiti spray-painted onto newly paved asphalt and other “harassing information” posted around the recreation area, and damage to gates within the recreation area.
U.S. Forest Service and local law enforcement authorities continue to investigate the vandalism, which could result in the culprits, now unknown, being prosecuted under federal law for either a misdemeanor or felony for damage to government property. Anyone with information should call the Ozark County Sheriff’s Office or the MTNF ranger office.