by Jonathan Hahn, Sierra magazine

Arkansas is often referred to as flyover country, seen only in passing from behind the double-pane glass of an airplane window. What people are flying over happens to be the home of one of the most iconic watersheds in the United States—an area of rolling bluffs and streams so lush and pristine that in 1972 a Republican president, Richard Nixon, designated Arkansas’s Buffalo River the first national river in the United States. This March marks 45 years since Nixon put the river under the protection of the National Park Service.

According to the law Nixon signed, the designation of the Buffalo National River was “for the purposes of conserving and interpreting an area containing unique scenic and scientific features, and preserving as a free-flowing stream an important segment of the Buffalo River in Arkansas for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations.”

Now, a “future generation” of Arkansas residents who inherited the first national river, fear that an industrial-scale Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation, or CAFO, threatens the sensitive ecology they call home. C&H Hog Farms, originally under contract with Cargill until the Brazilian meat processor JBS purchased Cargill’s pork division in 2015, dumps millions of gallons of hog urine and feces each year into giant waste lagoons, or ponds, just a few miles from the Buffalo River. That waste is then sprayed onto fields that are on the hillside or adjacent to Big Creek, a major tributary flowing into the Buffalo. C&H is the only CAFO operation of its size in the Buffalo River watershed and, according to concerned residents, it should never have been allowed there in the first place.


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Editor's Note:

We stumbled upon this article, originally written for the Sierra Club and got permission from the publication to repost as the present plight of the Buffalo is such an important issue to us right now. If you'd like to support the Buffalo via a tee shirt, please check out our latest Limited Edition here or see it pictured below. It's available through March 12th and $10 from every sale goes to the BRWA.

A little bit about the Sierra Club: Founded by legendary conservationist John Muir in 1892, the Sierra Club is the nation's largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization—with more than two million members and supporters. The Club’s successes range from protecting millions of acres of wilderness to helping pass the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Endangered Species Act. More recently, the Sierra Club made history by leading the charge to move away from the dirty fossil fuels that cause climate disruption and toward a clean energy economy.

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