C&H Buy Out – On June 13, 2019 Governor Hutchinson announced the “agreement” to close the C&H Hog Farm. The buy-out money, 5.2 million from the Arkansas Department of Heritage and 1 million from Arkansas Nature Conservancy, is in escrow. But more than two months later the 180-day close down has not started yet because of an issue over potential liens. Still we are assured that the deal will stick.
Basically, the 9-page agreement establishes a conservation easement to the State of Arkansas which permanently prohibits CAFO operations on the property but does allow most other types of farming or even a housing development. The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (now DEQ under the recent governmental reorganization) has the responsibility for directing facility remediation and continuing monitoring.
Permanent Moratorium on Swine CAFO’s – The current moratorium on medium and large swine CAFO’s in the Buffalo River watershed is due to expire in 2020. But it makes no sense to spend 6.2 million dollars to preserve “the historical, cultural, and recreational significance of the Buffalo National River” without making the moratorium permanent. DEQ made that recommendation at the July 26 meeting of the Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology and received a reluctant but unanimous approval. But this is just the start of a long process – there is a comment period starting August 23, then a DEQ response, followed by approval by the legislature and governor, and then back to the APC&EC for final approval. We will need OS support during the comment period for rule 5 (new name for the revamped regulation 5 which includes the permanent moratorium). Please send your favorable comments to this email:
firstname.lastname@example.org and mention Docket Numbers #19-002-R and #19-003-R or “Buffalo National River CAFO Permanent Moratorium.”
Wilderness Preservation – Veteran preservation advocates Kirk Wasson, Tom McClure, and Bill Pell recently joined me in a meeting in Hector with Mike Mulford and Supervisor Tim Jones of the Big Piney District of the Ozark-St. Francis National Forest – an area containing many hiking and canoeing areas that the OS holds dear. The 4-hour meeting focused on how we could work together to improve the protection of roadless areas. Two examples. Given the 40,000+ yearly visitors to Hawksbill Crag, how can the forest service help alleviate road congestion on Cave Mountain Road and how can the hiker impact in the upper Buffalo Wilderness be minimized? Also, recent on-line videos show off road vehicles posed between the waterfalls at Blue Hole. Is there a way to restrict this kind of access when there are numerous old roads in this “Special Interest Area”? Supervisor Jones was supportive of protecting roadless areas. He and his staff have several good ideas that are worth pursuing. We anticipate continuing emphasis by the OS on maintaining and expanding wilderness areas – currently only about 0.5% of the 30 million acres of Arkansas.