Efforts Underway to Acquire Private Land Blocking the Buffalo River Trail

The Buffalo River Foundation (BRF) acquired an option to purchase a 64-acre private inholding within the boundaries of the Buffalo National River. The tract of land, near the South
Maumee access point on the river blocks completion of a 28-mile extension of the Buffalo River Trail (BRT)between Highways 65 and 14. BRF must raise $80,000 and close on the property before the end of October.

To raise the necessary funds, The BRF kicks off a fund-raising campaign today via social media that will continue for the next 60-90 days. Parties interested in contributing to this effort should direct their inquiries to www.buffaloriverfoundation.org or find them on Facebook.

The BRT is the product of over 25 years of planning and construction by volunteers in conjunction with the National Park Service. The section of trail between Highways 65 and 14 is part of a greater plan to connect Ft. Smith to St. Louis by linking the Ozark Highlands Trail and BRT in Arkansas with the Ozark Trail in Missouri, creating a through-hike opportunity in the Ozark Mountains to rival those found in the Appalachians and Rockies. Due to the narrow park boundaries, a floodplain, and the existence of a historical road on the
property, the 64-acre tract is the only viable path for the BRT.

“The BRT is a hand-built trail, representing years of work and dedication by volunteers and their organizations,” states Ken Smith, BRT designer, and volunteer. “Extinguishing this private inholding and opening 28 miles of trail will reward their dedication and provide the public new recreational opportunities.”

Partner groups include the Ozark Highlands Trail Association, the Ozark Society, the Searcy County Chamber of Commerce, Arkansas Canoe Club, The Nature Conservancy in Arkansas, and the Central Arkansas Trail Alliance. The Buffalo River is known as a spring and summer floating destination, but businesses and outfitters hope to attract day hikers and seasoned long-distance backpackers alike in other parts of the year. Ideal hiking conditions in Arkansas occur in fall and winter.

“Providing year-round services to recreational users is important to north-central Arkansas’s economy,” comments Mike Mills, Buffalo Outdoor Center owner and BRF Board Member. “Creating a significant through-hike opportunity in the central United States will attract new people to Buffalo River country.”

BRF is a nonprofit land trust dedicated to the conservation of private properties in the Buffalo River watershed. BRF works with landowners to honor their objectives through conservation easements or donations. BRF works with partner organizations to purchase properties when special opportunities arise. BRF’s success depends on building, strengthening, and sustaining relationships with people, businesses, and organizations that use and care for the Buffalo River. To learn more visit www.buffaloriverfoundation.org.