Favorite

Next for the Buffalo 

The Buffalo National River needs more horse trails and a second camping area for equestrians. It needs fewer horse trails. It needs more walking trails. It should pave the roads. It shouldn't pave the roads. It needs more volunteers engaged in the park. It needs fewer volunteers and more professionals. It needs less private access. It needs more private access. It needs to be left alone.

Those and myriad other comments gleaned from seven “scoping” hearings in Northwest Arkansas and Little Rock are going into the first general management plan being drawn up for the park since its creation in 1972.

The deadline to put in your two cents about your vision for the park is Aug. 31 (online at www.nps.gov/buff). Public response is being collected and recorded at the Denver Service Center of the Park Service and will be posted on the park's website in three to four months' time, park Superintendent Kevin Cheri said.

Cheri said public input will drive the general management plan: “We want to know what's important to people.” The general management plan will guide all other plans for the park, such as use of fire and wilderness and wildlife management. “This is the top of the pyramid,” Cheri said.

This is a federal process, so nothing's going to happen right away. At the close of the comment period, the park service will draw up management alternatives (and their environmental impacts) based on the comments for presentation to the public in late summer 2010. More public hearings will follow and those will direct the draft of the final plan, which will also be submitted to the public for comment. The final document should be prepared by fall 2013. Implementation is another year down the road. The plan will then be in effect for the next 15 to 20 years.

“The more specific people can be can be helpful,” Cheri said. If you're opposed to something, suggest how you might compromise — if people want more horse trails and you don't, suggest where they'd be most acceptable, for example.

Comments made at the public scoping meetings — written on easel pads or submitted on cards — have addressed the number of put-in places for boats; availability of facilities, from restrooms to campgrounds; water quality; trail management, and so forth. A center similar to the Elk Education Center at Ponca that would have as its focus the people who have lived around the park — aboriginal and historical —has been suggested, as have more visitor centers, said Jeff Dezort, a writer for the Newton County Times in Jasper.

Equestrian use of the park is a point of contention, Ben Milburn, who runs Buffalo River Outfitters, a canoe rental and guide service business in St. Joe, said. He attended the Springdale and Harrison meetings and said folks at the former were likely to suggest limits on horseback use and that the opposite was true at the latter.

A “huge issue” for concessionaires, Milburn said, is the lack of parking at river access points. At Gilbert, for example, where a little road runs right to the river, cars often park on the river's edge, making it difficult for outfitters to retrieve canoes and take care of their customers.

Milburn said ranger behavior is a “big issue” in Newton County. “Rangers set up river checks where they check people for glass [bottles] and other things. They take it a little far,” he said.

Ken Smith, who literally wrote the book on the Buffalo (the “Buffalo River Handbook”) and who attended the Springdale public hearing, said the federal government, with its huge deficit, can't really afford to do much for the parks. “Shortage of funds — that is the one overwhelming fact,” he said. His idea: Make greater use of volunteers to work in the park.

Hearings were also held in Marshall, Mountain Home and Yellville.

Cheri said more than 1.2 million people floated or camped along the Buffalo River last year, a number based on concessionaire rentals and park service estimates.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Leslie Newell Peacock

  • Fayetteville, Fenix and art-making on Saturday

    If you're in Fayetteville this weekend, you can drop in on several workshops being held by the Fenix Fayetteville artists' cooperative at the Walker-Stone House, 207 W. Center St. downtown.
    • Jul 20, 2017
  • UALR artist Mia Hall is off to Penland: UPDATE

    The Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina has announced the hiring of Mia Hall, of the Department of Art and Design at UA Little Rock, as its new director.
    • Jul 19, 2017
  • ACLU asks court to enjoin antiabortion bills

    Lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union asked Judge Kristine Baker to grant an injunction against four laws passed this year by the General Assembly that would: * Make abortion after 15 weeks riskier by outlawing what the medical profession considers the safest procedure, dilation and evacuation; * Require doctors to inform local police when an abortion performed on a teenager age 14-16 absent any indication of abuse and that police create a record of the teenager's abortion and be provided the fetal remains; * Require abortion providers to ask women seeking an abortion if they know the sex of the fetus, and, if they do, obtain all of their previous obstetrical records to determine if they have a "history of aborting fetuses" of a certain sex, as the lawyer for the state said today in court. * Require notification of a woman's partner — or abuser — that she intends to have an abortion, ostensibly so they can agree on the disposition of the remains of the fetus.
    • Jul 13, 2017
  • More »

Most Shared

  • So much for a school settlement in Pulaski County

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Cynthia Howell got the scoop on what appears to be coming upheaval in the Pulaski County School District along with the likely end of any chance of a speedy resolution of school desegregation issues in Pulaski County.
  • Riverfest calls it quits

    The board of directors of Riverfest, Arkansas's largest and longest running music festival, announced today that the festival will no longer be held. Riverfest celebrated its 40th anniversary in June. A press release blamed competition from other festivals and the rising cost of performers fees for the decision.
  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.

Latest in Top Stories

  • Good for the soul

    The return of Say McIntosh, restaurateur
    • Jun 1, 2010
  • Robocalls are illegal

    Robocalls -- recorded messages sent to thousands of phone numbers -- are a fact of life in political campaigns. The public doesn't like them much, judging by the gripes about them, but campaign managers and politicians still believe in their utility.
    • May 31, 2010
  • Riverfest winds down

    With Cedric Burnside and Lightnin' Malcolm, Steve Miller Band, Robert Cray, Ludacris and more performing.
    • May 30, 2010
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

July

S M T W T F S
  1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation