Visiting Hours, Public Use Limits, Closures, and Area Designations

 

B. SUPERINTENDENT’S COMPENDIUM
In accordance with regulations and the delegated authority provided in Title 36, Code of Federal Regulations (“36 CFR”), Chapter 1, Parts 1-7, authorized by Title 54 U.S.C. §100751, the following provisions apply to all lands and waters administered by the National Park Service, within the boundaries of Buffalo National River. Unless otherwise stated, these regulatory provisions apply in addition to the requirements contained in 36 CFR, Chapter 1, Parts 1-7.
Written determinations, which explain the reasoning behind the Superintendent’s use of discretionary authority, as required by Section 1.5(c), appear in this document identified by italicized print.

 

I.36 CFR §1.5 VISITING HOURS, PUBLIC USE LIMITS, CLOSURES, AND AREA DESIGNATIONS FOR SPECIFIC USE OR ACTIVITIES
(a)(1) The following visiting hours and public use limits are established for all or for the listed portions of the park, and the following closures are established for all or a portion of the park to all public use or to a certain use or activity:
Visiting Hours:
Tyler Bend Visitor Center will be open daily 8:30-4:30
Buffalo Point Ranger Station will be open daily 8:00-4:30
The Tyler Bend Visitor Center and all visitor contact stations will be closed, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day;
Buffalo National River Headquarters will be open Monday-Friday 8:00-4:30. Closed all Federal holidays;
Campground visitor hours are from 6:00am-10:00pm. After 10:00pm only registered guests and employees are permitted in campgrounds.

Public Use Limits:

  • Use of individual campsites at developed campgrounds is limited to a maximum of six persons. All group sites are limited to a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 25 people.

The Superintendent has imposed these restrictions to limit impacts to the resources and to decrease the likelihood of campers spilling over into adjacent campsites.

  • No person, party or organization shall be allowed to camp at Buffalo National River for more than a 14 day period in one campsite and will not exceed a total of 30 days in a calendar year without authorization of the Superintendent. After this 14 day period campers must change campgrounds.

The Superintendent has put these restrictions in place due to the high demand for campsites.

  • At Erbie Campground, Recreational Vehicles and pull behind campers are limited to the 14 designated RV sites.

The Superintendent has limited RVs to the designated sites that were designed for such use.

  • Drive-in horse camping is only authorized at Steel Creek, Erbie, Woolum, Log Wagon Gap and Hathaway Horse Camps and is limited to no more than six persons and six head of stock at each campsite.

The Superintendent has restricted the use of horses/stock to these campsites due to being designed for such activity. The amount of stock is limited based on the carrying capacity and size of the individual sites.

  • Horse camping at Steel Creek, Erbie, Woolum, Log Wagon Gap and Hathaway Horse Camp is limited to a total of seven consecutive days.

The Superintendent has limited the days due to impacts to the resources and the amount of manure that builds up over a period of days.

 
 
 
 

Closures:

  • Launching, landing, or operating an unmanned aircraft from or on lands and waters administered by the National Park Service within the boundaries of Buffalo National River is prohibited except as approved in writing by the Superintendent; The term “unmanned aircraft” means a device that is used or intended to be used for flight in the air without the possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the device, and the associated operational elements and components that are required for the pilot or system operator in command to operate or control the device (such as cameras, sensors, communication links). This term includes all types of devices that meet this definition (e.g. model airplanes, quadrocopters, and drones) that are used for any purpose, including for recreation or commerce.
The Superintendent and other NPS authorities have decided that to maintain public health and safety, protection of environmental or scenic values, protection of natural or cultural resources, implementation of management responsibilities, equitable allocation and use of facilities, and to avoid conflict among visitor use activities the use of unmanned aircraft will not be allowed within Buffalo National River. The park has several wilderness areas and the use of these unmanned aircraft would affect wildlife, view sheds and create unreasonable and unauthorized noise levels within these areas. Until regulations can be set in place (and studies conducted) to ensure unmanned aircraft will not interfere with park operations, rescue operations, law enforcement operations and will not cause undue harm to visitors this closure will remain in place. Established users for model aircraft (as that term is used in Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Advisory Circular 91-57 and section 336 of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2012) will not be affected by this closure. However, updated permits must be approved by the Superintendent and Associate Director for Visitor and Resource Protection.
  • All caves within the boundary of Buffalo National River are closed to recreational caving with the exception of: The caves in Lost Valley (Eden Falls Cave and Natural Bridge); The caves along the Panther Creek trail system at Buffalo Point (Panther Cave and Indian Rock House) are open to unrestricted recreational caving; Back O' Beyond cave and Silver Hill cave are open for guided interpretive tours only.
The Superintendent has determined that White Nose Syndrome (WNS) is an imminent threat to the cave bats of Buffalo National River, and every effort should be made to prevent or slow its spread to the park. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service, as the lead federal agency in wildlife conservation, has issued protocols that are designed to prevent the spread of the suspected causative agent of the WNS. The Superintendent has determined the closure is the best available method to meet the NPS mission to protect the wildlife in the park for the enjoyment of future generations.
  • All abandoned mines are closed to public entry.
The Superintendent has determined closure of all abandoned mines in the park is necessary for public safety, and protection of the mine environment. During the late 1880s to 1918, the Rush area was an active zinc mining area. After 1918, the mines were deactivated and lay dormant except for occasional mineral collectors or rock hounds. In 1984, an on-site inspection of the mines was made by the park’s Resource Management and Visitor Protection staff, the park Safety Committee, and a mine safety inspector from the Office of Mine Safety and Health Administration. The team recommended the mines be closed to public access. Among the hazards are large loose ceiling rocks, deep pits, and water-filled pits. Several of the tunnels showed signs of recent cave-ins. Mineral collecting over the past several years has further weakened the walls and ceiling. Chain link fencing was installed at the entrances to these mines in 1985, along with signs advising that the mines are unsafe and closed to entry. Cave gating has been installed in an effort to prevent entry. During 2002, mine inspections conducted by Resource Management and Visitor Protection Rangers found additional collapses and deterioration. Our experience with Rush mines and observations of other mines, has led to the conclusion the danger of these old mines is consistent throughout the park. This closure affects all abandoned mines in the park.
  • All roads, lands and waters within Buffalo National River are closed to the operation of all-terrain 3 and 4-wheel cycles, off road vehicles, utility vehicles (UTV) and similar vehicles intended only for off-road use.

The Superintendent has determined all-terrain type vehicles pose a safety hazard to the visiting public. There is no state training or license requirement and, as such, no assurance of operator standards on public roads. No routes within Buffalo National River are designated for off-road motor vehicle use. Past activities of ATV users within the park have damaged resources and allowed entrance into designated wilderness areas. Administrative use is allowed in accordance with the park’s ATV Plan.

 
 
 
 
  • Camping is prohibited the entire length of Lost Valley including the area formally known as Lost Valley Campground. Camping is prohibited on Goat Trail (Big Bluff) and Hemmed in Hollow Trail from the Falls downstream to the first trail junction.
The Superintendent has determined the Lost Valley area is prone to flash floods and could be dangerous to visitors. Also, camping in these areas of extremely high use would be detrimental to the preservation of the cultural and natural scenery, and the visitor experience. The valley and trail areas are narrow, it is difficult to camp out of view of the trail, human waste has been left in open view, fires have been built and left within view of the trail and there is a strong history of improper camping in the area.
  • All roadways, trails, and other two-track access conveyances, regardless of former use, that are gated and/or marked “No Motor Vehicles” within Buffalo National River are closed to the operation of all motor vehicles, except during emergencies or administrative use.
The Superintendent has determined closure of certain roads, trails, and two-track access roads in the park is necessary for protection of park agricultural lease fields, archeological and cultural sites, riparian areas, wildlife habitat, public safety, and the general protection of the river and its associated banks and access areas. The regular availability and popularity of four wheel drive vehicles and the activities of their users have created a similar environment to that of ATV users which have damaged resources and allowed entry into areas not normally available to prudent users of a roadway in the park. Many of these roadways or conveyances are in remote areas.
  • All areas in the Erbie Historic Zone (see Appendix D) , with the exception of the Cavers’ Camp, Erbie Horse Camp, Erbie Campground and Cecil Cove Springs are closed to camping;
  • All historic buildings and the areas adjacent are closed to camping.
The Superintendent has determined camping within a historic zone would diminish the cultural and natural scenery and the visitor experience due to the presence of tents, human waste being left in the open, fire pits constructed and trash being left behind.
  • Tethering, attaching, picketing or tying a horse, pack or other animal used for conveying persons, equipment or other property to a historic building or other cultural property is prohibited.
Attaching horses or other pack animals to historic or other cultural properties has been documented to cause undue wear and damage to park structures, as well as leaving animal waste in the immediate area.

Geocaching is an activity, that uses a hidden or otherwise defined location, persons locate by using mapping coordinates on the earth’s surface, which typically reveals a container holding items or other articles, including but not always a logbook, which permits persons to trade, exchange or track items at that site. The Superintendent has determined geocaching results in several instances of abandoned property and alteration, if not devastation, to cultural and natural resources.
Earth-Caching or virtual-caching, is an activity that uses a geological location, located using mapping coordinates on the earth’s surface, which permits a person to visit that location, in order to learn about a unique feature of the Earth. Earth-Cache pages include a set of educational notes along with the coordinates. Earth-Caches are designed to be educational in nature showing how the planet has been shaped by geological processes, how resources are managed and how scientists gather evidence. Typically, to log an Earth-Cache, a person has to travel to the location, observe the geological site, and then provide answers to questions about their visit to the coordinates via the internet.

 
 

(a)(2) The following areas have been designated for a specific use or activity, under the conditions and/or restrictions as noted:
Hunting:
Lands and waters within Buffalo National River are open to hunting as mandated by Federal statutory law and in accordance with Arkansas Game and Fish Commission regulations. Buffalo National River is a Wildlife Management Area (“WMA”) and is considered WMA Zone 080. Additionally a portion of the Sylamore WMA, Zone 620, lies within the park in the Lower Buffalo Wilderness Area. Additional regulations are as follows:

  • Hunting Equipment: Killing devices or traps may not be possessed on WMAs unless a season is open. Rifles and handguns larger than .22 caliber rimfire, buckshot or rifled slugs may be used only during modern gun deer, bear or elk seasons or during daylight hours during bobcat, fox and coyote seasons. Muzzleloaders may be used during firearms season, except for muzzleloaders larger than .40 caliber, which may not be used on any WMA unless a muzzle loading or modern firearm deer, bear or elk season is open. Unless otherwise prohibited, bobcat, fox and coyote may be taken during daylight hours with firearms of any caliber during bobcat, fox and coyote seasons on AGFC-owned WMAs, Blue Mountain WMA, Dardanelle WMA, J. Perry Mikles Blue Mountain SUA, Nimrod Lloyd Millwood WMA, Ozark Lake WMA and all U.S. Forest Service lands including WMAs lying within the Ouachita National Forest and the Ozark-St. Francis National Forest.
  • Concealed weapon permit holders may carry a modern handgun, except in places where otherwise prohibited under federal, state or local law or where not allowed by the landowner. Concealed weapon permit holders are not allowed to use their concealed weapon for any hunting purpose. All concealed handgun permit holders must identify themselves to a wildlife officer when complying with an inspection pertaining to birds, fish, game or other wildlife resources.
  • Firearms may be carried on Park, but may not be used for any hunting purpose, unless the weapon is legal for that season.
The Superintendent has determined the park will incorporate Arkansas Game and Fish Commission restrictions concerning the possession of weapons on WMA’s and uphold Arkansas State Law concerning possession and carry of weapons.
  • The discharge of a weapon or killing device across, into or from the Buffalo River or its gravel bars is prohibited.
The Superintendent has determined there is a considerable hazard to public safety if hunters discharge weapons into or across the river, or on, into or across the gravel bars. The Buffalo River is the principal recreation attraction of the park. There is year-around john-boat, canoe, and kayak use of the river; park visitors utilize the river corridor much of the year in addition to SCUBA/snorkel divers and swimmers Many of the park’s hiking and horseback riding trails parallel the river or cross it and gravel bars are the preferred camping sites throughout the backcountry areas.
  • No hunting allowed in areas designated as Safety Zones (see Appendix A) or within 150 yards (138 meters) of a park residence, developed area and/or trail. See list of Safety Zones and Developed Areas at the end of this Compendium.
The Superintendent has determined developed areas are routinely visited by members of the public who camp, hike, picnic, launch boats, park cars or attend programs. The visiting public should be able to have areas they do not feel threatened by hunting activities. Allowing hunting activities in these areas would be reckless
Chase for pleasure and dog training are not permitted.
The Superintendent has determined this type of activity has the potential to put undue strain on wildlife and conflicts with other recreational uses.
  • Trapping of feral hogs, on private inholdings and historic leases, is allowed with a Special Use Permit from the Superintendent. Trapping is for killing purposes only. The transport of live hogs is not permitted in accordance with Arkansas State Law.
The Superintendent has determined the trapping of feral hogs by permit, for killing purposes only, is permissible in these areas to assist with the maintenance of scenic values, protection of natural and cultural resources and to assist in the implementation of management responsibilities. Feral hogs have been damaging historic farm lease fields and other inholding lands by digging and rooting. By allowing the owner, or lessee, of the property to engage in this activity, under requirements set forth in such permit, it helps the landowner in their endeavors while assisting the National Park Service and other entities on reducing or eradicating this non-native species. This action also assists in reducing damage to the surrounding areas. Trapping is allowed under the following circumstances:
  • The owner of the property has obtained a signed permit from the Superintendent;
  • The permit is only used under the landowner or lessee name and is not transferrable to any other party or family member;
  • The permit must be kept on the person to which it is allowed at all times when utilizing the trap
  • The trap must be checked once every two days;
  • Only non-toxic, grain source bait may be utilized for the trap;
  • The trap is for killing purposes only. Live swine/Hogs may not be transported. Carcasses may not be deposited on Park Service lands;
  • The requestor must define in their request the exact location of the trap(s), the need for the trap and agree to completing and submitting an annual report of the number, approximate size, and sex of hogs which were trapped and killed;
  • The requestor will attach on each trap a durable tag with the issued permit holder name, permit number, address and phone number, and vehicle license plate number. These tags will be provided by the NPS when the permit is completed.

 
 

  • The possession or use of gasoline, kerosene, or powered lights (generator or liquid fuel) and stoves is prohibited in all caves except for rescue or other authorized emergency operations.
The Superintendent has determined the use of gasoline, kerosene, and propane lanterns, traditionally used by some cave visitors has great potential for harm to the resource and visitors. Lanterns are generally carried in the hand as the primary light source. This reduces caver mobility in climbing and scrambling maneuvers. Lanterns are a problem in crawlways because they must be pushed along in front of the caver without burning him/her, breaking the globe, or breaking a mantle. There is always a possibility of liquid fuel spillage when a lantern is dropped or refueled, and there is a history of these occurrences in park caves. The glass globes on the lanterns are likely to break when lanterns are dropped; this has also happened in park caves. The exhaust gases of lanterns are known to cause asphyxiation in tents and in small crawlways with little airflow; they would have the same danger. Stoves pose the same risk of asphyxiation, burning, and fuel spillage as lanterns. While they may be needed in an emergency operation to heat liquids or foods, they are not a necessary piece of caving gear.
Camping:
  • The following campgrounds are walk-in tent camping only and recreational vehicles and pull behind style campers are prohibited: Steel Creek, Kyles’ Landing, Carver, Spring Creek and Rush;
  • Hammocks are permitted within Buffalo National River. Hammocks must be attached to vegetation of sufficient size, using straps or other techniques, which do not alter or cause damage to the vegetation. Hammocks may not be attached to park owned or maintained structures.
  • Refer to §2.10 for other detailed camping area designations.
The roads to these campgrounds are narrow, steep and winding and are not designed for large vehicles. Also, the campgrounds were not designed for this type of camping therefore the Superintendent has limited these areas to walk-in tent camping.
Boating:
  • Occupants of a vessel who are twelve (12) years of age or younger must wear personal flotation devices (“PFD”,) of the types described below in brackets, securely fastened to their persons at all times while aboard any vessel. [One (1) Type I, II, III, or V PFD, if used according to its approved condition, which is U.S. Coast Guard approved, in good and serviceable condition, and of proper size for each person on board] A “vessel” is defined as every description of watercraft, or other artificial contrivance used, or capable of being used, as a means of transportation on the water (36 CFR § 1.4.)

The Superintendent has determined the park will require PFDs in concurrence with Arkansas State Law (27-101-203.)
Water Skiing is prohibited.
The Superintendent has determined the river corridors are too narrow and winding to support water skiing and considering the motor size is limited to 10 horsepower or less it would be inconsistent with water skiing.

 
 
 
Bicycles.
(b)Administrative roads that are closed to motor vehicle use by the public, but open to motor vehicle use for administrative purposes may be used by non-motorized bicycles and class I and II electric bikes (e-bikes). Administratively closed roads posted as “Do Not Enter” may not be used by bicycles or electric bicycles. The operator of an e-bike may only use the motor to assist pedal propulsion. The motor may not be used to propel an e-bike without the rider also pedaling, except in locations open to public motor vehicle traffic.
Determination:
Administrative roads are roads that are closed to motor vehicle use by the public, but open to motor vehicle use for administrative purposes. The superintendent may authorize bicycle and e-bikes on an administrative road in accordance with 36 CFR 4.30 (b). Such bicycle use is consistent with protection of the park area’s natural, scenic and aesthetic values, safety considerations and management objectives, and will not disturb wildlife or park resources. The superintendent has determined that non-motorized bicycles and e-bikes (class I & II) will be allowed on administratively closed roads unless posted “Do Not Enter.”
The policy supports a new Secretary’s Order, signed by U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt on August 29, 2019 that directs Department of the Interior bureaus to create a clear and consistent e-bike policy on all federal lands managed by the Department. The policy also supports a Secretary’s Order to expand recreational opportunities and accessibility on public lands.
The term "e-bike" means a two- or three- wheeled cycle with fully operable pedals and an electric motor of less than 750 watts (1 h.p.).
E-bikes are allowed in Buffalo National River where traditional bicycles are allowed. E-bikes are prohibited where traditional bicycles are prohibited. Except where the use of motor vehicles by the public is allowed, using the electric motor to move an e-bike without pedaling is prohibited.
A person operating an e-bike is subject to the following sections of 36 CFR part 4 that apply to the use of traditional bicycles: sections 4.12, 4.13, 4.20, 4.21, 4.22, 4.23, and 4.30(h)(2)-(5).
Except as specified in this Compendium, the use of an e-bike within Buffalo National River is governed by State law, which is adopted and made a part of this Compendium. Any violations of State law adopted by this paragraph is prohibited.
E-bike" shall mean "low speed electric bicycle" as defined by 15 U.S. C. § 2085 and falling within one of the following classifications:
Class 1 electric bicycle shall mean an eclectic bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling, and that ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 20 miles per hour;
Class 2 electric bicycle shall mean an eclectic bicycle equipped with a motor that may be used exclusively to propel the bicycle, and that is not capable of providing assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 20 miles per hour; and
Class 3 electric bicycle shall mean an eclectic bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling, and that ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 28 miles per hour.
(f) Closures and other use restrictions E-bikes Use
  • No person shall operate a class 3 electric bicycle on any trail traditional bikes are permitted on.
  • No person shall operate a class 2 electric bicycle in throttle mode only on any trail traditional bikes are permitted on.
  • Class 3 e-bikes can only be used on roads inside the park that are open to all motor vehicles.
SPEED LIMITS: The speed limit for bicycles on any trails that allow traditional bicycles and electric bicycles is fifteen (15) miles per hour (mph).

Last updated: May 14, 2020

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