Public Input Needed on Buffalo River Proposals

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PONCA, Ark. – The National Park Service wants the public’s input as it looks to update the management plan for one of the most popular parts of the Buffalo National River.

The land use plan for Boxely Valley, located on the upper end of the river, hasn’t been updated since 1985. One of the biggest changes in the last 32-years has been the introduction of elk to the area, which has dramatically increased visitation.

“The traffic wasn’t as crazy [on Highway 43 when we first started coming here], but now the traffic is horrendous and very dangerous,” says Robin Thomas, who is visiting Lost Valley Trail from Russellville.

“But I also understand the local’s point of view,” she says, “and I’m sure the traffic is a nuisance for them.”

The NPS is seeking public input on a number of strategies to better manage the increase in traffic to the area.

One of the strategies deals specifically with the elk. The NPS would work the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department to widen the pull-off on Highway 43 –-a popular area to take pictures.

Other proposals include improving parking and the flow of traffic at Lost Valley and at nearby Steel Creek.

New infrastructure could also be added to the Boxley Valley area, such as improved restroom facilities, additional education resources, and a new visitor center.

“We just hate to see it be modernized,” says Little Rock resident, Harry Anderson, “because it is just an old established natural place,  you feel like you come back in time sometimes when you come here.

“So to beautify it and modernize it, you hope it doesn’t take that away from it,” he says.

“We also recognize there are so many more people that are going to come up here now,” Anderson says, “because it’s such a great place to be and you have to accommodate people.”

For more information about the NPS proposals for Boxley Valley and how to comment click here.

Comments will be accepted through June 5; the NPS hopes to have a draft established by late 2018.

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