Harrison, Ark.- The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics recently announced the designation of Buffalo National River as a Leave No Trace Gold Standard Site, joining an elite group of 12 parks nationwide to earn this honor.
“The park rangers here at Buffalo National River have put in a lot of hard work and effort to educate our visitors, and also just to make sure that this public land stays as safe and clean as possible,” said Cassie Branstetter, the chief of interpretation at BNR.
The Buffalo National River sees roughly 1.5 million visitors a year. Due to COVID-19, Branstetter says they had to teach more guests than ever about Leave No Trace.
“We’re seeing a lot of new visitors,” said Branstetter. “People who have never come to the river before, who have never canoed or kayaked or perhaps even hiked in this part of Arkansas before.”
Branstetter believes the biggest reason the Buffalo National River is the first Arkansas Park to receive the Gold Standard is because of local visitors taking pride in their own backyard.
“Sites like Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon, the visitation that they receive comes from all over the globe, which is wonderful that we can share our public lands in that manner, but it’s also very special and unique that Buffalo National River is so appreciated by the local community here too,” said Branstetter.
Buffalo National River is the sixth National Park Service site to receive this designation.