THE Buffalo River has been closed to recreation use and Arkansas State Parks, including Bull Shoals State Park, limited to day use from tomorrow, April 3.
The Buffalo closure includes a ban on boats accessing the lower stretches from the White River, with parks staff undertaking “educational patrols”, rather than issuing tickets
(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) —Stacy Hurst, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage, and Tourism (ADPHT), today announced all Arkansas State Parks will be open for day use only effective 8 a.m. on Friday, April 3, until further notice. ADPHT is eliminating all overnight stay opportunities. These changes will maintain some access to parks at this time but discourage trips from out-of-state visitors. This move is consistent with 28 other states.
Due to the inability to offer adequate space for social distancing, the following areas and trails will be closed:
Cedar Falls Trail and Cedar Falls Overlook at Petit Jean State Park
Day-Use Area on Highway 300 and the East Summit trailhead parking areas at Pinnacle Mountain State Park, including access to the West Summit, East Summit, Kingfisher and Base Trails, the Little Maumelle River Boat Ramp and the Picnic Area
Fossil Flats Mountain Bike Trail and the Woody Plants Trail at Devil’s Den State Park
Additional trails and facilities may be closed if visitors are unable to maintain physical distancing on other trails or other day-use areas.
“Our state parks are valuable resources for the citizens of our state,” said Hurst. “We are making this decision to slow the traffic to our parks and to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. People may still come and enjoy outdoor activities for the day. Our uniformed staff will be reminding them to practice social distancing and be good stewards of our beautiful parks.”
Any deposits to the parks will be refunded, and any fees will be waived. Questions about reservation cancellation should be made to the parks directly.
Additional limitations to day-use visitation will be implemented to reduce the opportunity to spread the virus.
Parking will be restricted at highly visited parks to designated lots only and enforced through citations/tickets issued by Park Rangers. Some parks will close the entry gate to the park when it is full for crowd control.
Problematic areas such as trails that are either too narrow for proper social distancing or so popular that crowding occurs at the trailhead may be closed.
Park Rangers will enforce social distancing by patrolling parks and dispersing gatherings of more than 10 people. Uniformed staff, including superintendents and interpreters, will actively help educate visitors on the grounds on busy days.
Park Rangers or other park staff from across the system will be deployed to highly visited parks as needed in anticipation of crowds.
Complete and up-to-date information on the parks and closings can be found at https://www.ArkansasStateParks.com/covid-19-update.ARKANSAS STATE PARK PRESS RELEASE
The Buffalo River Press Release below
Northwest Arkansas – Effective immediately, Buffalo National River will be closed to recreational use until further notice. This closure includes the Buffalo River, trails, open spaces, and campgrounds. This emergency closure is for the maintenance of public health and safety and is in direct response to guidance from state and federal health officials.The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, communities, and partners is our number one priority. The National Park Service (NPS) is working service-wide with federal, state, and local authorities to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and will lift the closure as soon as possible.
Buffalo National River superintendent Mark Foust said “It breaks my heart to have to close this incredible public park. It is, however, the right thing to do to protect the people that work here, live here, visit here, and love this place. We all have to do what we can to slow and prevent the spread of the virus in and around the park. We believe this will help. I am thankful to the people of Newton, Searcy, Marion, and Baxter Counties, who everyday share the river with us and support visitors from all over the country and the world. I look forward to the time we can all welcome visitors back to the Buffalo, sharing the river and the experiences we all know to be good for our minds and bodies.”
State highways and county roads that run through Buffalo National River will remain accessible to through or residential traffic. Roads that enter and terminate within the park, are closed to all but residential traffic. We will notify the public when we can open the park and will provide updates on our website at http://www.nps.gov/buff and through social media channels.
The NPS encourages people to visit our website www.nps.gov/buff and take advantage of the many digital tools available to explore Buffalo National River. Updates about NPS operations will be posted on www.nps.gov/coronavirus.