LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A draft plan to manage and preserve the Buffalo River in Arkansas is complete.

The Buffalo River Watershed Management Plan draft recommends reducing pollutants that end up in streams in the watershed. A watershed drains into the body of water that it surrounds, and can bring in pollutants from the soil due to stream bank erosion, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported .

“In Arkansas, that’s a big issue in just about every watershed,” said Allen Brown, program coordinator in the nonpoint source pollution management section of the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission, which ordered the draft.

Recommendations include monitoring water quality, conducting special studies, providing education for visitors and residents, and applying management strategies.

The draft created by environmental consulting firm FTN Associates is the latest measure taken toward preserving the Buffalo River after concern over C&H Hog Farms, a large animal-feeding operation on Big Creek near where it meets the river.

Opponents of the operation said the farm is an environmental risk to the river, which attracted nearly 1.8 million visitors last year. Area residents have also voiced concerns regarding erosion, gravel in the river, leaking septic tanks and feral hogs.

Funds for the management plan came from an Environmental Protection Agency grant totaling $107,000. The plan is part of the state’s Beautiful Buffalo River Action Committee, which is made up of five state agencies and will include public meetings and input from stakeholders.

Brown said management plans for other watersheds included stabilizing and restoring stream banks, keeping cattle from grazing too close to water, preparing to manage nutrients on farms, restoring game bird habitat and controlling invasive species.

The commission will consider comments from stakeholders through Jan. 15 before sending the draft to the EPA.


Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com