As our Marty Cook reports in this week’s issue, a proposal to redesignate the Buffalo National River as a National Park & Preserve has ignited fierce debate and stirred up feelings still sore from when the river was first declared a National River back in 1972.
Those feelings include “generational trauma” resulting from the government’s use of eminent domain, according to Misty Langdon, who organized Alliance for the Buffalo National River, a group opposed to redesignation.
So let’s put passions aside for a moment and consider what both sides of the issue, proponents of redesignation and opponents, do agree on.
Austin Albers, the owner of the Buffalo Outdoor Center in Ponca, who supports, at the very least, a conversation about the issue, says that the Buffalo needs infrastructure improvements such as river access points, better roads, bathrooms and parking lots.
Langdon agrees on the need for infrastructure improvements, but thinks those can be addressed with better funding and not a redesignation. “We’re not saying don’t do anything,” she said. “We’re not going to be the people saying, ‘Absolutely no progress. We don’t want a blade of grass touched.’”
Finding areas of agreement is a start to addressing the very real problems of what is not only a state treasure, but a national treasure.