Changes proposed to the Buffalo National River?

While this is probably years away, developers are out to monetize (is that improve or destroy? ) the pristine environment of the Buffalo River area.

Developers include members of the Walton family (i.e. WalMart in case someone doesn’t know).

Is anywhere allowed to remain mostly natural any longer? Arkansas is also known as “The Natural State”

The Buffalo has Wild and Scenic River status.
It should stay that way.
The turnout is encouraging.

What they need to do is also make sure that the Buffalo has a designation as a “state wild and scenic river” in addition to the national status. That way they would have to change two designations instead of one. That would slow development down.

I do see both sides on an issue like this. You don’t want to kill or destroy what is special about a place but economic development and increased tourism is a strong draw for depressed economic areas. Until you have lived in one of those areas and seen people struggle it doesn’t really hit home. It is a bit selfish to work in an urban area and enjoy the econmic benefits and then insist that the undeveloped areas stay that way so that you can enjoy it.

As far as Walmart, I have been told that Bentonville is a mountain bike mecca by a buddy who paddles with me. We don’t have Costco and Target where I live. We do have Sam"s (Beckley) and Walmart. (Fayetteville) and of course dollar generals are the new corporate ma and pa grocery store for rural america.

Usually it comes down to the poliiticians and who can make money from the resource… but hey what do I know…I was only paddling today in our nation’s newest national park and preserve. I think overall, having the New River as a national river was a good thing. Access was greatly improved. Some jobs were created. So far, I’m not really impressed with our most recent changes, becoming a natl. park and preserve, Increased usage means people can’t find campsites, and many folks don’t realize there isn’t potable drinking water in the park, and the tolets/outhouse can’t handle the extra use. It is really getting kind of smelly some places. We are experiencing growing pains. Parking lots at trailheads are full often (glade creek, endless wall, long point). Perhaps the money from the feds will catch up so expanded facilities can be built. In the meanwhile, growing pains.

I’m not a hunter but it is a huge part of the culture in WV. So the preserve status allows some of that to continue. I see that as a good thing. We were a National River but not “wild and scenic” which offers different, more significant, protections. That would impress me even more.

People tell me my house will be worth more now given its proximity to a national park ( but taxes will likely go up) but the real question is “will it be the special place it has been in the past?”

Interestingly enough, not many boaters on the river this time of year. i saw zero others the last two days, just my friends and I. The hardcore whitewater crowd is off to the Russel Fork and it is getting too cold for the more casual folks. I did meet a local that was doing a little prospecting outside of the park in the dries. Apparently some gold and manganese gets carried down the New from North Carolina into WV. Who knew?

Here in WV, the public perception is that you don’t want us to mine coal so maybe service sector tourism jobs will help us pick up some of that slack. Unfortunately, many of those jobs are seasonal and low paying. It is very difficult to find professional positions that pay even $20.00 an hour here. You can be a nurse or a school teacher if you want benefits. As a state, we are still depopulating in most areas.

I like Lousiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, and West Virginia. All great places to paddle and camp in but I suspect each of those states faces similar health and economic challenges. Every coin has two sides, but we have forgotten that because we just use credit and debit cards and self pay. Thus we eliminate another job but get things more cheaply. The trick is not to kill the goose that lays the golden egg. The Buffalo is a “golden egg” for sure.