Public to have input on Forks proposal for several campgrounds

The public will have a chance to comment on a proposal by the Forks of the Wabash Historic Park to develop several campsites on an island adjacent to the Forks property west of Huntington.

The Forks of the Wabash board has applied for a $40,000 grant from the Wabash River Heritage Corridor Commission to fund the project. As part of the grant application requirements, it must hold a public hearing to solicit input from the community.

That hearing will be conducted on Tuesday, Sept. 25, at 7 p.m. at the Forks of the Wabash Historic Park.

A top priority of the commission is to establish campsites for use by people traveling on the Wabash River, says Dave Hacker, who serves on both the Wabash River Heritage Corridor Commission and the Forks board.
The commission's goal fits neatly with the desire of the Forks board to make some use of the island and the fact that the Forks sits at the top end of the portion of the Wabash River that is navigable by canoes and kayaks, Hacker says.

The island starts behind the area of the Forks that includes the visitors' center and other buildings, Hacker says, and extends nearly to Rangeline Road.

The grant would be used to develop three campsites on the island, complete with picnic tables and a fire ring. The sites would be available for use by the public at no charge, but are designed primarily for people who are traveling the river by canoe or kayak. The campsites would have no amenities; anyone using the sites must be self-sufficient, carrying what they need in and out of the sites.

The grant, if awarded, would also pay for the construction of a bridge across the channel from the visitors' center area to the island as well as a hand-carry canoe launch site.

The Forks must provide a 20 percent match, Hacker said, and that would be provided in the form of volunteer labor and equipment.

The grant application deadline is Oct. 1, and grant announcements are expected in early November. Hacker says that if the Forks receives a grant, construction would take place over the winter.