Our governor admits that his passion for the Buffalo River colors his response to the available science. First he says, "Science, not emotion, must drive our approach to protecting the Buffalo National River." A bit later he says, "My love for our state and my passion to protect our water compels me to ensure that the studies are scientific and impartial."
Unfortunately for the river, love and passion are not the measures by which science is ensured. Unbiased rigorous study design and adherence to set protocols are the basis of true science. Despite assurances from the Department of Environmental Quality and Big Creek Research and Extension Team reports, the U.S. Geological Survey, National Park Service, Karst Hydrogeology of the Buffalo National River, and Arkansas Game and Fish all beg to differ in their reports of impairment.
If wishes were fishes, the river would be swimming with healthy organisms and species. Instead, the USGS shows the tributary next to the C&H CAFO is alarmingly low in dissolved oxygen that allows smallmouth bass to breathe and flourish. The Department of Environmental Quality ignores the data, claiming it's too much information to process. Although the Big Creek research team reported high nitrate levels and peaks in phosphorus that promote stringy algae blooms that obscure the clear waters downstream, it continues to repeat that the water is okay.
We applaud our governor's love for the Buffalo, but ask him to keep an eye on the science, read the Regulation 5 comments on the Department of Environmental Quality's website from the Buffalo National River superintendent, the Ozark Society, Buffalo River Watershed Alliance, noted geologists, and former Environmental Quality employees.
Sometimes, Governor, your closest advisers are not your most objective sources of impartial information.
Editorial on 04/18/2017