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KSMU is dedicated to broadcasting critically important information as our community experiences the COVID-19 pandemic. Below, you'll find our ongoing coverage.

Buffalo National River Closes To Public To Help Curb Spread Of COVID 19

Michele Skalicky

You won’t be able to float, hike, camp or take part in any other recreational activities at the Buffalo National River in Arkansas in the near future.   The park is now closed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.  That closure includes the river, trails, open spaces and campgrounds. 

Buffalo National River spokesperson, Cassie Branstetter, said it was a decision that wasn’t made lightly.

"We received feedback from all of our stakeholders, from local stakeholders, from national stakeholders, from federal officials, from state officials, from health officials," she said.  "We took this decision very, very seriously."

Barricades are in place at Buffalo National River entrances, including at trailheads and at river put-in access points, Branstetter said.  Park rangers will still be on the job, working to protect the park during the closure.

It wasn't an easy decision to make, according to Branstetter.  "We are...just asking our visitors to understand the purpose behind the closure," she said.  "This is meant for the safety and health of everyone in the local area and anyone who may have been coming to visit from outside of the areas."

The park has seen a lot of visitors in recent days, according to Branstetter.  And with the most popular trails and other areas experiencing heavy visitation, it wasn't possible to comply with the CDC's social distancing recommendations.  

The National Park Service is working with federal, state and local authorities to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and will lift the closure as soon as possible, according to park officials.