Buffalo River

The prospect of increasing tourism at Withrow Springs State Park and in Huntsville is on the radar of the Natural State Advisory Council, a group appointed by Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders in January 2023 and tasked with growing the state’s outdoor economy.

The Natural State Advisory Council set a bold agenda for transforming four state parks, hoping Petit Jean State Park becomes a “national climbing destination,” Delta Heritage Trail State Park becomes a “trail town” with a “significant gravel event,” Pinnacle Mountain State Park becomes a destination for a “running, hiking and biking trail along the shoreline” and Queen Wilhelmina State Park becomes a home to a gateway trail concept. 

U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Ark., who represents the 4th Congressional District, visited Jasper on Dec. 4 to listen to constituents’ opinions regarding re-designating land around the Buffalo National River and to alleviate concerns about the effects of the Expanding Public Lands Outdoor Recreation Experiences Act (EXPLORE Act) on the area.  

FAYETTEVILLE, WEST VIRGINIA — After New River Gorge National River became America’s newest national park and preserve in a Covid-relief bill passed at the end of 2020, some area businesses saw an economic boom.

FAYETTEVILLE, WEST VIRGINIA — New River Gorge became the nation’s second national river in 1978, its’ designation following the country’s first national river established in 1972: Arkansas’ Buffalo National River.

Tom and Steuart Walton, grandsons of Walmart founders Helen and Sam Walton and heirs of the Walton fortune, founded the Runway Group, LLC, to invest in properties and businesses throughout Northwest Arkansas.

Newton County Quorum Court members passed a resolution at their Nov. 6 meeting opposing “the changing of the name designation or expansion of the Buffalo National River, and any further negative impact on the agricultural lands or infringement on private ownership on the Buffalo National River Watershed.”

JASPER — After a town hall meeting last Thursday, proponents of turning public land around the Buffalo National River into a national park preserve said they would step back from the idea. The following day, a website touting the benefits of re-designating the land was taken down. 

JASPER — Nearly 1,200 people — more than double the town’s population — packed the Jasper High School Auditorium on Thursday night to voice concerns and pose questions regarding a proposal to turn the public lands around the Buffalo National River into the Buffalo River National Park Preserve.

The Runway Group of Bentonville is “retracting” the idea of turning federal land around the Buffalo National River into a national park preserve, according to State Sen. Bryan King, R-Green Forest, who represents District 28, which includes Madison County.

A coalition floating the idea of making federal lands near the Buffalo National River a national park preserve says the designation would make the area the “most active-use National Park in the country for outdoor recreation.”

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