FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE- February 17, 2009
Mike Johnson, Information Officer 870-365-2700 x 774
BUFFALO NATIONAL RIVER BACK TO NORMAL OPERATIONS
FOLLOWING ICE STORM
Thanks to a team effort by park employees, local resources, businesses, agencies and staff from other National Park Service units within the Midwest region and around the country, Buffalo National River is back to normal, day-to-day park operations following the most devastating ice storm to hit the area in more than 100 years. While park staff members return to their day jobs, hours of work remain to bring roads, trails and campgrounds back to par.
Incident Commander Scott Bressler, assisting from Voyageurs National Park in International Falls, Minn., said the park’s response is unparalleled.
"From the day I arrived on the incident, I was impressed to see how folks from different disciplines all across the park worked as a team," said Bressler. "I heard a longtime staff member say this is the greatest example of park employees joining forces for a common purpose he had ever seen, and I would agree with his words."
Three weeks after the storm made its mark on northern Arkansas, park roads, campgrounds, cabin areas and other visitor areas are clear of debris; however, safety hazards may persist through the summer. Visitors must stay vigilant of falling branches and limbs when navigating through trails and other heavily-wooded areas.
Officials are particularly concerned about trails in the upper and lower wilderness. A 20-person trail maintenance crew from Saguaro National Park in Tucson, Ariz., will be arriving in the park this week to ensure these trails are fully accessible as soon as possible. Visitors should expect temporary trail closures while the crew is working.
Efforts have been made to open trails as quickly as possible for all recreationists, including hikers and horseback riders. A number of trails in the park are clear and deemed safe. These include Sneeds Creek Trail, Center Point Trail, Chimney Rock Trail and the Buffalo River Trail from Boxley Valley to Steel Creek in the Ponca Wilderness and Kyles Landing areas. All trails in the Tyler Bend area are completely accessible as well.
"We appreciate the public’s patience as we continue to traverse all 95,000 acres of the park clearing debris and other hazards," said Kevin Cheri, Buffalo National River Superintendent. "Our No. 1 concern is the safety of our visitors and employees. Unfortunately, we’ll be feeling the effects of the storm for months to come." EXPERIENCE YOUR AMERICA The National Park Service cares for special places saved by the American people so that all may experience our heritage.
For specific questions about the condition of a trail or other recreational areas, visitors may call park headquarters at (870) 365-2700 Ex. 503.
For information about Buffalo National River, call (870) 365-2700 or visit the park Web site at www.nps.gov/buff.