Buffalo National River

Citizen Science at Buffalo National River

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Leave No Trace partners with the Buffalo National River to support Outdoor Ethics

The Buffalo National River has been a popular destination for decades but the recent pandemic has increased interest in outdoor recreation, including the Boxley Valley area. With additional visitors in the area, there are concerns about the impact this is having in the valley. This project is designed to document current impact issues with the hopes of creating better management techniques to improve the park and the visitor experience.

Since Buffalo National River’s (BNR) establishment in 1972, the Boxley Valley area has been one of the primary visitor destinations. In 2011, the valley experienced a major flood that devastated a number of park facilities, including a bridge, campground, numerous trails, and other infrastructure, particularly in the vicinity of Lost Valley. While improvements to park facilities and infrastructure have been made since the flood, further improvements and site rehabilitation are necessary for Lost Valley and other locations within Boxley Valley. Compounding this issue is the need to address continued increases in visitor use, which places added strain on limited and aging park infrastructure. Buffalo National River staff need updated guidance to help address some of these issues.

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Leave No Trace for Outdoor Ethics, LNT.org,  has developed a Citizen Science application to measure visitor impacts within the Buffalo National River Boxley Valley and Steel Creek areas. The project’s goal is to collect data gathered from the public over time to be used by NPS land management to establish a baseline and formulate strategies to help reduce impacts and improve visitors’ experiences.

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To participate, download the app and open it in an area with wi-fi reception BEFORE entering the Boxley Steel Creek areas. Record your observations using the appropriate five datasheets. These include Lost Valley Parking Area, Steel Creek Campground Impacts, Elk Viewing Area, Number of Boats at Access Points, or Inappropriate Visitor Behavior. When you get back to an area with wi-fi service, upload your saved observations. You can make your observations anonymously.   Observations may be made using a notebook and entering them on the website at a later time. If using the paper method, be sure to record the date and time of your observation and record all the required data observations. Here is the desktop link: Buffalo National River Citizen Science

You can also find the free mobile link in your app store by searching for Leave No Trace Citizen Science and then choosing the Buffalo National River project. Also:

About Leave No Trace

The organization accomplishes its mission by providing innovative education, skills, and research to help people care for the outdoors. By working with the public and those managing public lands, the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics focuses on educating people—instead of costly restoration programs or access restrictions—as the most effective and least resource-intensive solution to land protection.

You can find more information from Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics in an article we posted during the Federal shutdown in 2019.

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