Victory for the Buffalo National River

The Buffalo National River flows through the heart of Northwest Arkansas, drawing visitors from across the Ozarks to enjoy its beautiful turquoise waters. At 37 North, we lead several different trips to this area. In fact, one of the first expeditions I went on was a fly fishing trip to the Buffalo River. This past week, due to the advocacy and hard work of conservation groups, there was an exciting victory for this beautiful river: After years of causing harm, the C&H Hog Farm will finally be closing down!

The C&H Hog Farm is a large Confined Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) located on the Buffalo River watershed. 6,500 pigs are housed there, creating more than 2 million gallons of waste each year. This waste is directed into a holding pond and is then applied to 17 fields adjacent to Big Creek, which flows into the Buffalo River. Presenting an additional complication is the Ozark’s porous limestone rock. This means that anything poured onto the land seeps through the fissures into an underground water system, which also leads to the Buffalo River. Once in the waterway, the waste from CAFOs presents health risks to both humans and wildlife. Due to its position on the watershed and its lack of environmental protection policies, the C& H Hog Farm was a particularly dangerous operation. According to the Arkansas Wildlife Federation, the farm’s waste management plan can be compared to a town of 35,000 people without a sewage treatment plan. It’s hard to understand just how harmful this can be for the entire Buffalo National River Ecosystem.

However, there is good news. In a major environmental victory, the C&H Hog Farm will be closing down in the coming year! Thanks to the dedication of activists from around the Ozarks, the state legislature refused to issue a renewed permit to the farm, which means that they have 180 days to cease all operations. After this, the Department of Environmental Quality will begin cleaning up the site. Although some lasting effects from the C&H Hog Farm will likely be present even after it closes down, this marks a landmark decision in protecting America’s first national river. This remarkable Ozarks treasure will be protected for its wildlife inhabitants and visitors, including our great 37 North groups!

Meaghan Duda