The year's most significant meeting of the Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission occurred last Friday in Little Rock. Most Arkansans would agree as they learn the alarming news Richard Mays presented there. Mays was representing the Buffalo River Coalition opposed to the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (cough) issuing the permit that allowed C&H Hog Farms to begin spreading millions of gallons of raw waste into the Buffalo National River watershed at Mount Judea. The coalition was there to alert commissioners and the state of evidence collected over a year ago by Dr. Todd Halihan of Oklahoma State University. Working under contract with the Big Creek Research and Extension Team and the Cooperative Extension Service, Halihan used electrical resistivity imaging in March 2015 to show what Mays said is "evidence that there has been and continues to be a possible release of contamination beneath the C&H hog farm." Using slides from Halihan's study, Mays explained how hog waste could be shown through technology. The waste reflects a particular level of electrical conductive signature, which can be charted in colors. Halihan's studies were conducted on waste-spray fields and beneath the facility. The slides used at Mays' presentation, which appear to reveal [...]
Join us for an evening of "Science and Song" on June 7. This coalition event will feature Still on the Hill, a wonderful couple who write and sing their nature-themed songs, and Dr. John Van Brahana, nationally recognized hydrogeologist and Professor Emeritus, University of Arkansas Fayetteville. He will speak about his research, dye studies and data collected in and around Mt. Judea, Big Creek, caves, springs, etc. Refreshments will be served. The event takes place at the Unitarian Church, 1818 Reservoir Rd., Little Rock AR from 6 - 7:30pm. (Don't confuse it with Unity Church on the same street.) Bring a friend!
Come to a film screening for a new Chris Engholm film, "The Trailblazer." The purpose of the film is to tell the story of the Buffalo River Trail and celebrate the role that Ken Smith has played in its design and construction over the decades. The film includes the backstory of how the park was created and how the trail was planned. It also includes interviews. The premier takes place on May 5, 2016 from 6-9 PM at Café 211 in Bentonville, AR. The Trailblazer
Dear Governor Hutchinson: Having known you and our gracious state’s first lady Susan for years, you realize I wouldn’t write this unless my heartfelt convictions were firmly behind these words. I know you, having served in the same 3rd District congressional seat my uncle, the late John Paul Hammerschmidt, held for 26 years, understand better than most the trials of public responsibility and how close the Buffalo River was to his heart and conscience. That’s why he acted in the face of strong local resistance to ensure this precious resource was preserved for generations to come. His willingness to do what he and some Arkansas colleagues in Congress knew deep inside was the right thing to do resulted in the Buffalo being named our country’s first national river in 1972. How wonderful for our state. Of his many achievements in the career of public service he so honored and cherished, I believe his efforts to ensure the Buffalo River remained protected were the ones in which he took most pride. So I write to sincerely ask you, on behalf of myself and untold thousands of concerned Arkansans and others who’ve enjoyed the experience of the magnificent Buffalo National River, to do [...]
I’ve previously written about our state Department of Environmental Quality’s (cough) decision not to honor requests from the National Park Service and the U.S. Geological Survey to include three Ozark streams flowing in the Buffalo National River watershed on the agency’s 2016 list of impaired waterbodies. The request from the National Park Service, supported by hard science, supposedly arrived too late for inclusion to the list required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Those following this sad saga of our state wrongheadedly allowing C&H Hog Farms to spray raw waste from up to 6,500 swine along Big Creek that flows into the national river only 6.8 miles downstream already know of the diligence and volunteer water-quality testing conducted by Dr. John Van Brahana and his team since the factory opened. Because I and many others consider Brahana, among the nation’s foremost experts on the karst terrain that underlies the Ozarks, to be objective and far beyond qualified to conduct such tests in the public interest, I also appreciated the comments he recently sent to Michael Lamoureax, Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s chief of staff. I can only hope the governor reads them as well. Brahana was among many to recently comment publicly on [...]
Here we go again, circling the same wagons accomplishing nothing while avoiding robust discussion over the real potential for environmental calamity in our precious Buffalo National River watershed. And for what, I continue to wonder? To defend at all costs one family in Newton County who teamed with Minnesota's Cargill Inc. to convince our state's Department of Environmental Quality (cough) it was a fine idea to approve the first hog factory in the state's most ecologically fragile region? It's become a relevant question in light of the state's continuing public expense and political lobbying involved in keeping this misplaced factory running. It was no surprise the two federal agencies, which guaranteed the loans for the C&H Hog Farms, released their findings the other day. They claim there's "no significant impact" to the first national river as a result of the millions of gallons of raw hog waste held in two lagoons when not being regularly sprayed across fields near Big Creek, a major tributary of the Buffalo flowing less than seven miles downstream. Don't worry, Arkansas! Be happy! This latest environmental assessment follows the initial version filed by the Small Business Administration and the USDA's Farm Service Agency. U.S. District Judge [...]
Pending approval of the feasibility study by the City of Fayetteville, the Ozark Society will grant the City up to $2,000 to help defray a portion of the cost of a feasibility study of a future whitewater recreation park on the White River just south of Fayetteville.
Missed Deadline Meanwhile, back at the majestic Buffalo National River, one of our state's brightest jewels for recreation and tourism. Kevin Cheri, superintendent of the Buffalo River National Park Service office at Harrison, in October sent a letter to Becky Keogh, the latest director of our state's Department of Environmental Quality (cough) asking that agency to place three tributaries of the Buffalo on its annual list of "impaired waterbodies." Such a designation falls under requirements cited in the federal Clean Water Act. Cheri's request included his agency's documentation of sustained fecal E. coli contamination in Mill Creek, as well as significantly low levels of dissolved oxygen in Bear Creek and Big Creek, the stream that flows alongside C&H Hog Farms at Mount Judea. Did our agency for preserving water quality, which allowed the hog factory to set up shop on the Buffalo watershed, agree with Cheri and include these three creeks with obvious environmental problems? Why, of course not. These streams won't even be considered for inclusion on the list until 2018. It seems folks at the Buffalo National River didn't make the March 31, 2015, deadline for inclusion in its latest list. And heaven forbid our state's official environmental watchdogs [...]
The Pulaski Chapter will be hosting the Spring General Membership Meeting the weekend of April 15 at Ferncliff Camp and Conference Center just outside Little Rock. The General Meeting will be Saturday and Sunday, with an OS Board Meeting held on Friday evening. Accommodations include camping, cabins and rooms, as well as an on-site cafeteria. We will have a Saturday night potluck, dutch oven cook-off, and swing dancing. Ferncliff has hiking and biking trails, small lakes for canoeing and kayaking, and there are other recreational opportunities nearby. Click here to download the registration form, with details about registering for lodging, camping and meals if desired . Important information: Please pre-register and pay for sleeping arrangements and cafeteria meals by the April 1 deadline so that Ferncliff can plan staffing and accomodations appropriately (see financial page of registration form.) The Ozark Society has reserved the north 40 acres of Ferncliff for our exclusive use, but there are lots of things to do at Ferncliff (swimming, canoeing, fishing, biking, hiking, etc., on site.) They have found that a $12 /person facilities fee is reasonable for all that is available-it is a good deal in order to encourage families and students, we have decided [...]
Below is a link to comments on the Draft FONSI and Final Environmental Assessment submitted on behalf of Buffalo River Watershed Alliance, Arkansas Canoe Club, National Parks Conservation Association, and Ozark Society. The Coalition's Earthjustice attorneys did a brilliant job of pulling together comments of all four groups. This is an educational document of value to understanding the problems encountered in our efforts to close or move the hog factory. Click on the link below to see the comments submitted on behalf of the Buffalo River Coalition: Final Comments on Draft FONSI final EA