Buffalo National River

Buffalo National River is the crown of Northwestern Arkansas. The river was the first federally protected river in our nation. It flows 135 miles, from the headwaters above Boxley Valley, through the Ozark Mountains, to the White River. It’s one of the only undammed rivers in the lower 48. Along its length, it brings tourists and recreational users to local communities and businesses. For those who live here, it is a getaway for life on the water and in the outdoors.

This time of year when water is low and flat, you have little if no current to propel you. We decided to put in at Pruitt and take out at Hasty, a nice 7-mile trip. And we didn’t get on the water until a little after 1 PM. While it was the hottest part of the day, the sun was going down. Shadows were growing long, and cool shade was in plenty. There was lots of time for rope swings and swimming holes, fishing, visiting, laughing.

The 100th birthday of National Parks is celebrated even while they are under siege. This centerpiece of Ozarks ecology, with extraordinary bluffs, wildlife, and wilderness is no different. Only 14% of this river’s watershed is within the protection of national Park boundaries. Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality allowed industrial hog farming in the Buffalo River watershed. Arkansas’ natural Karst topography is porous limestone and doesn’t filter much. So toxic hog sewage is expected to empty into this protected river within the next several years.

In the Buffalo Tuesday, all we experienced was love for the river and the natural state of Arkansas. I hope its future can be reclaimed.





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