The Arkansas Public Policy Panel and the Ozark Society’s efforts to protect the Buffalo National River are now law. After the partnership mobilized thousands of Arkansans in support of the Buffalo, the Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission adopted changes to two regulations to prohibit new permits for large swine facilities in the Buffalo River Watershed.

The Panel and the Ozark Society petitioned the Commission in April of 2014 to initiate both rulemakings.

“Today’s decision is great news for all Arkansans and the protection of the Buffalo River,” said Barry Haas, a member of the Panel’s Board of Directors. “We thank Governor Hutchinson, the Legislature and the APC&E Commission for their support to protect one of Arkansas’ most treasured natural resources.”

The new rules prohibit the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality Director from issuing new permits in the next five years for swine operations in the Buffalo National River Watershed with 750 or more swine weighing 55 pounds or more, or 3,000 or more swine weighing less than 55 pounds. The rules require the ADEQ Director to initiate rulemaking at the conclusion of that five-year period to either continue the ban indefinitely or remove the ban. The new regulations do not impact the existing permitted facility in the Buffalo River Watershed, which is the subject of litigation.

“We thank the thousands of citizens who called for this change,” said Alan Nye, President of the Ozark Society. “The Buffalo River is protected for a minimum of five years from potential adverse impacts of new large swine facilities.”

The rule changes lower threats to water quality posed by the land application of swine waste and leakage from waste holding ponds. Air quality will remain high in the Buffalo River watershed, and the growth of visitors to the Buffalo, an important economic driver for the state, should continue unabated.