Buffalo River Outfitters Suffering from Park Closure

Published 10/09 2013 04:39PM

Updated 10/10 2013 04:13AM

YELLVILLE, Ark. – Businesses that depend on the Buffalo National River for canoe rentals, camping tours and visitor traffic are suffering during the government shutdown.

Like other National Parks, the Buffalo is completely closed. Even private landowners who live by the water cannot access it.

Ron Stoops, a manager at Wild Bill’s Outfitters, said the business could lose its license if it even transports people to the park via shuttle.

“We’re still getting phone calls,” he said. “People don’t realize the Buffalo River is a National Park and they can’t get on it.”

In the past week, Stoop and the other workers at the outfitter shop have been refunding canoe and cabin reservations to people who had planned a trip to camp or fish on the Buffalo.

Stoop said he normally rents out 10 canoe trips each day in October. But now the store can only sell merchandise like food and basic groceries to make ends meet.

“We get some local busines to keep the store on,” he said. “But it will hurt us, I’m afraid. Especially if it lasts much longer.”

The effect trickles down to people like David Cassell, who leads fishing tours for Wild Bill’s but is not a full-time employee. Cassell cannot collect money from his main source of income and is taking on small side jobs like painting.

He said he was mad and unsure of what to do.

“It’s my livilihood,” Cassell said. “We have people who want to fish, want to float the Buffalo. How can you deny them a natural resource? It’s not a facility.”

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