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26 08, 2020

Ozark Society President’s Report for Fall 2020

By |2020-08-28T12:31:13-05:00August 26th, 2020|Categories: Fall 2020, Pack & Paddle|Tags: |

Fall General Meeting, 9 AM, at Lake Nixon, October 3, 2020 We currently plan a one-day meeting with board meeting in the morning and general meeting with election of officers in the afternoon, followed by a Compton Award recognition of Dana and Bill Steward. Lake Nixon is a church camp a few miles west of Little Rock with canoeing/kayaking on their private lake, hiking on site, and plenty of covered outdoor meeting space to accommodate social distancing. If you have an interest or know of a person who might be willing to serve on the OS board please contact one of the nominating committee members: Luke Parsch, Lowell Collins, or Alice Andrews. CAFO Moratorium In their haste to reject the temporary moratorium on medium and large swine CAFO’s in the Buffalo River Watershed, the Arkansas Legislative Council also rejected changes to regulation 6, which puts Arkansas in the potential awkward position of Federal regulations usurping state implementation for some aspects of the clean water act. There has been no public response from DEQ about a resolution of these issues but the deadline for action on the moratorium is September 19, 2020. Robert’s Gap Project www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=53597 The Forest Service has a [...]

8 06, 2020

Permanent CAFO Moratorium (Reg 5) Passes PC&EC

By |2020-06-08T14:51:41-05:00June 8th, 2020|Categories: Pack & Paddle, Summer 2020|Tags: |

Last week there was a surprise announcement that the Pollution Control & Ecology Commission had a minute order on the agenda to pass changes in Reg 5 at the May 27 meeting. Meaning that after 10 months of delay, there was likely to be a resolution one way or another for our efforts to make permanent the current temporary moratorium on medium and large hog CAFO’s in the Buffalo River Watershed. The temporary moratorium was for 5 years and is scheduled to expire this year. Without a permanent moratorium the entire C&H kind of affair could start over again next year. The battle lines have been between those who think that clean water, as exemplified by the Buffalo National River, should be preserved verses the “right to farm” position postured by the Farm Bureau. The possibility of coexistence has been greatly politicalized by the C&H controversy, which, along with the corona virus problem, led to several delayed votes. But PC&EC meetings are public meetings and DEQ accommodated that by broadcasting on Arkansas Public Television and by allowing no more than 15 members of the public into the hearing room at any one time – the rest were to sit in [...]

12 12, 2019

Tom McClure Promotes Wilderness Ethics at the Fall Meeting

By |2020-01-21T18:03:56-06:00December 12th, 2019|Categories: News & Updates, Winter 2019|

Tom McClure gave a rousing keynote address on the value of wilderness at the fall meeting of the Ozark Society at Queen Wilhelmina State Park. Tom, a native of Gurdon who now lives in Rogers, has been involved in preservation issues around the country for most of his life. He traced the wilderness ethic through Thoreau, Aldo Leopold, and others with pithy statements and observations and then brought the issue back to Arkansas. Most of the current wilderness areas in Arkansas (about 1% of the area) were established in the early 1980’s with one recent 640-acre addition last year at Flatside. But there may be as many possible wilderness areas that might have qualified for inclusion but were deleted for various reasons in the ultimate legislative actions. A good example is the Blue Hole, a special interest area on Hurricane Creek. Hurricane Creek is in the watershed just south of East Fork Wilderness, some 15 miles north of I-40 near Hector. It is protected by the steep sides of White Oak Mountain and a narrow canyon where it joins the East Fork of Illinois Bayou. Blue Hole is a swimmable pool just below two wonderful 10-foot waterfalls. It has a [...]

12 12, 2019

C & H Hog Farm and CAFO Moratorium in the Buffalo River Watershed

By |2020-01-21T18:05:13-06:00December 12th, 2019|Categories: News & Updates, Winter 2019|

The last piglet at C&H was weened a couple of weeks ago and all hogs are due to be gone by January 2020. The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) will then proceed with the closure and remediation of the waste lagoons. The next step, making the temporary moratorium on medium and large swine CAFO’s permanent, was put on hold at the October 25, 2019 meeting of the Arkansas Pollution, Control & Ecology Commission (APC&E) when they unexpectedly voted to extend the comment period 90 days. The reason for the extension was the publication of the Big Creek Research and Extension Team's (BCRET) final report. The new deadline is now January 22, 2020. Although the initial 400 positive comments (out of 402) will be counted this time, we ask that Ozark Society members add additional comments in support of the DEQ rule change. Electronic submission: http://water.adeq.commentinput.com/?id=6pAef. The 300+ page BCRET report, available at the BCRET website, is highly technical but with readable summaries. While opponents of the moratorium will latch onto the phrase that C&H has had a “limited impact” on the Buffalo River, there is strong evidence that the Big Creek watershed has been contaminated with excess nutrients. This includes [...]

4 09, 2019

Ozark Society News and Happenings

By |2019-12-12T11:44:41-06:00September 4th, 2019|Categories: Fall 2019, Pack & Paddle|

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 [...]

10 12, 2018

Beautiful Buffalo River Action Committee (BBRAC) Meeting (11/13/18)

By |2019-06-03T12:09:04-05:00December 10th, 2018|Categories: Pack & Paddle, Winter 2018|

At a recent BBRAC meeting in Little Rock, several agencies reported some action. The Health Department reported on a small survey of septic systems in Newton County, and the Geology Department has stunning new relief maps of the watershed. But the most important meeting announcements were by Mark Faust, the new Superintendent of the Buffalo National River, and Billy Justus of the Little Rock office of the United States Geological Survey (USGS). Faust announced a “Buffalo River Science Symposium” scheduled for April 23-24 at the Durand Center in Harrison. The idea is to present as much science pertaining to the Buffalo River watershed as possible. This could be an opportunity to exchange ideas with researchers and regulators like the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality and the Big Creek Research Extension Team and the many citizen advocacy groups like the Buffalo River Watershed Alliance, Ozark Society, etc. Justus made a presentation about microbial source testing on Mill Creek, which is notorious for years of pollution from non-functioning sewage treatment at Dog Patch, and also from cattle farms in the Crooked Creek drainage, which none-the-less contributes to Mill Creek because of karst. They are differentiating between poultry, humans and cattle, but not hogs [...]

8 03, 2018

Nutrient Trading in Arkansas – Good or Bad Idea?

By |2018-08-06T12:47:55-05:00March 8th, 2018|Categories: Pack & Paddle, Spring 2018|Tags: |

Anna Weeks of the Arkansas Public Policy Panel recently set up a meeting between several environmental groups and Alan Gates, the lawyer from Little Rock who wrote the current Arkansas nutrient trading law, and who now represents the 4 cities in Northwest Arkansas which hope to establish nutrient trading in the Illinois River watershed.  The basic idea is this.  Suppose that a watershed has a goal of meeting nutrient limits, say total maximum daily loads (TMDL) of total phosphorous (TP).  There are two primary sources: point sources (wastewater facilities, industry, etc.) and nonpoint sources (agriculture, urban/suburban runoff).  If a point source finds that it is much more expensive to reduce their discharge of TP than the cost from non-point sources, then the point source can pay the nonpoint source to reduce TP discharges, and take credit for the reduction. It’s a win for the watershed. TP levels are reduced and everyone gains financially. The Illinois River watershed has had a long history of excessive poultry litter application, causing very high TP loads and massive algae blooms in Oklahoma streams and lakes.  This problem culminated in 1992 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Arkansas must abide by a stringent Oklahoma TP limit, [...]