Buffalo National River Trying to Change Tarnished Reputation

NORTHERN ARKANSAS - - The Buffalo National River spans 153 miles through the heart of Northern Arkansas. 

A National Park Service Report shows that visitors to the Buffalo River spent over $77 million last year in communities near the national park.

That money supported 1,200 jobs in the area, and boosted the local economy by over $90 million.

That flow of tourism money could soon dry up if things don't change with the Buffalo River.

It's beginning to have a new, tarnished reputation.

The Buffalo National River is a hot bed for outdoor lovers, but now it's in the national spotlight for something else.

"I've probably had as many letters about the Buffalo River since I've been governor as any topic, and that says a lot," Governor Asa Hutchinson said. 
The American Rivers Association just released it's annual list of the most endangered rivers in the United States. 
Cracking the top ten, The Buffalo River sits at number 9.
"There's really two factors," Brian Haggard said. "One is the C and H Hog Farm that we've all heard a lot about that's been in the press and  newspapers and the other reason is the potential cuts to the Department of the Interior in the National Park Service."
Brian Haggard is the Director for the Arkansas Water Resource Center and he says President Trump's recent proposed cuts to the EPA could make the matter worse. 
"Something's going to have to give and a lot of times that might be data collection or land management or who knows what impact it might have on the Buffalo River," Haggard said. 
Haggard says the biggest risk for those on the water especially those using a kayak or canoe is the potential risk of them coming into contact with hog waste.
"From a human health perspective what we'd be concerned with would be bacteria in particular e-coli," Haggard said. 
C and H Hog Farm produces about 80,000 hogs a year, which is equivalent to the waste produced by about 30,000 people. 
that waste is causing the water quality to decline due to runoff.  
KNWA has been following this story for years, and we previously spoke with the owner of the hog farm, who says he's been following all state regulations. 
"These fields that we have have been fertilized for years and years," Jason Henson, Co-Owner of C&H Hog Farm said. "We have rules and regulations on how much we can put out and when we can put it out, and how we can put it out."
Regardless of what's causing the river to be endangered, Haggard says we have to always be aware of what we're doing when it comes to protecting the environment. 
"We have to realize that anything that we do as humans in the landscape, it's going to have an impact on our water resources," Haggard said. 


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