Alternative selected under Finding of No Significant Impact approves improvements to infrastructure and visitor services
Harrison AR– Buffalo National River plans to collaboratively implement infrastructure and visitor services improvements in the Boxley Valley Area, as funds become available. Following an Environmental Assessment (EA) of proposed improvements, the National Park Service issued a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI), approving the implementation of the proposed actions.
Some of the many improvements that Buffalo National River will pursue include accommodating high levels of vehicle use by redesigning and/or modifying parking areas and entrance roads at key river access points and trailheads in Boxley Valley. Future expansion of interpretation and education opportunities will be prioritized, along with the creation of accessible routes to newly restored historic structures. Implementation of these improvements will occur as funding becomes available.
“We are excited to hear that the planned public use developments are closer to becoming a reality,” said Chris Colclasure, Deputy Director of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. “The Buffalo River and the surrounding scenery offer a much-needed escape for Arkansans and visitors alike. We have had a rich partnership with the Buffalo National River and look forward to working with them on these expanded visitor services and amenities.”
Buffalo National River Acting Superintendent Laura Miller said, “Thank you to everyone who participated and provided comments during this process. Input from our park partners, local community members, and the general public was extremely valuable. We look forward to securing funding and developing partnerships that can create the needed improvements in the Boxley Valley area. We are confident that these improvements will further visitors’ enjoyment of their public land and provide for additional protection of the natural and cultural resources.”
About the EA Process and FONSI
The EA fully analyzed two alternatives. Under the preferred alternative, Buffalo National River would be permitted to improve the visitor experience, safety, and resource protection through increased interpretation and education in the area and expand visitor services through infrastructure and facility updates. The National Park Service selected the preferred alternative after careful analysis of resources and visitor impacts; consultation with 8 affiliated tribes, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Arkansas Ecological Services Field Office, the Department of Arkansas Heritage, and review of public comments. All comments were reviewed, and substantive comments were responded to by subject matter experts.
The EA and FONSI, including a complete outline of the planned improvements, can be reviewed at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/projectHome.cfm?parkID=119&projectID=59592.