First posted on 03-14-2013
In the 1960s and early 1970s, Dr. Neil Compton and a host of others fought the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers about that organization’s plan to dam the Buffalo River. Dr. Compton and his team won that fight.
But a new threat looms for the Buffalo River. C&H Hog Farms won approval from the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) to build a 640 acre hog farm in the river’s watershed. The large-scale operation is west of Mount Judea, and adjacent to Big Creek, which empties into the Buffalo near the Carver launch site off Highway 123.
Over 2 million gallons of hog waste will be generated by the farm each year. Operational plans say the farm will spray the liquid waste over its acreage as a means of disposal. The farm also plans on two lagoons to handle most of the solid waste, each with only a foot of clearance before they overflow.
A heavy rain could easily cause the lagoons to clear those banks, and any stormwater runoff has the potential of adding excessive amounts of nitrogen, phosphorous, antibiotics and animal waste to Big Creek, then into the Buffalo River.
Adding to the environmental issue is that the Mount Judea school sits just across the creek, less than a mile from the hog farm. Pollution and foul odors threaten the students, teachers and administrators at the school.
Over 1 million people hike, camp, fish and float along the Buffalo. The Buffalo River Chamber of Commerce—which opposes the hog operation—estimates those visitors spend about $38 million in the area each year.
Some local residents complained that there was no notice of the proposed hog farm review by the ADEQ except for a terse announcement on the department’s website last year. The Buffalo River chamber wants work on the farm halted until after an organized public review is held.
The Buffalo River area is one of my favorite places in the Ozarks. A pristine river, beautiful hills, excellent camping opportunities and plenty of hiking make it a paradise for anyone who enjoys nature and the outdoors.
I signed a petition at Change.org, demanding that the hog farming operation be stopped. As of this writing, I’m joined by nearly 5200 other people who want to keep the Buffalo clean and clear.
I hope you’ll consider signing the petition as well. Let’s not tarnish Dr. Compton’s efforts by letting a hog farm pollute the river that could not be dammed.
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