Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Photo essay: A hog farm for the Buffalo River watershed

Posted By on Wed, Apr 17, 2013 at 2:44 PM

PARADISE FOR PIGS: Don Nelms view of the Buffalo River valley this morning inspired a photo essay of the threat to the region posed by a Cargill hog feeding operation.
  • Don Nelms
  • PARADISE FOR PIGS: Don Nelms' view of the Buffalo River valley this morning inspired a photo essay of the threat to the region posed by a Cargill hog feeding operation.

Don Nelms, a former Fayetteville auto dealer, political candidate, environmentalist and photographer, has taken up a roost near Jasper overlooking the Buffalo River. He circulates daily photographs of the natural wonders around him.

Today, he ventured back into politics, with a photo essay and commentary inspired by the recent approval of a 670-acre C&H Farms hog feeder operation on property near Mount Judea in the Buffalo River watershed. He's given me permission to reprint the slide show (on the jump) with his descriptions. He writes by way of introduction:

For the many years that I have sent out photographs, I have always treated this list as an extension of my photography and nothing else, with the exception of a few times that I sent out pictures of my grandchildren.

Today I'm going to break my own rule. I took a trip to Mount Judea, Arkansas, today to look at the Cargill hog operation. I was shocked that the emotional impact it had on me. Cargill will be placing over 6000 pigs in the Buffalo National River watershed. Every time I tell someone that this is happening outside of the local area they almost always have the same reaction: "I can't believe that's happening!" The Buffalo National River is arguably the most beautiful pristine area in the central United States. To think that Cargill would place the hog factory in the watershed is beyond belief.

Dr. Neil Compton is considered by many to be the father of the Buffalo National River. John Paul Hammerschmidt, Sen. J. William Fulbright, Sen. Dale Bumpers, Sen. David Pryor and many others worked tirelessly to preserve this national treasure. Today we have the Compton Gardens located contiguously with Crystal Bridges, the newest incredible treasure of Northwest Arkansas given to us by the Walton family. Alice Walton in her wisdom chose to pay tribute to Dr. Compton and his accomplishments by including his legacy into the Crystal Bridges landscape.

Unfortunately Walmart will be in the uncomfortable position of having to sell Cargill meats in extraordinarily large quantities all across this country.

This morning I woke up and stepped out on my back porch to take a picture of the extraordinary view that I have been blessed with. And as I punched the button of my Nikon I realized that in the lens I can see Mount Judea and in general the location of this hog factory that Cargill has chosen to put in a beautiful valley of Newton County.

So I invite you to go along on this journey with me through the photographs that I took today.

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