For the last several years construction of a part of the Buffalo River Trail east of Tyler Bend has been stymied by an old obstacle known as “The Roberts Tract”. This is a 64-acre parcel that for various reasons was not purchased outright by the National Park Service when the Buffalo River National Park was being formed. Instead, NPS basically settled for a scenic easement that restricts what the owners can do with it but does not permit public access and therefore, no hiking trail.
This property is north of Marshall, about midway between South Maumee Road and Red Bluff Road. It runs from near the river on the north to the park boundary on the south. Getting around it on the river bank is just barely possible (most of the year) but is not simple (this is the “proposed trail” on page 3 of my maps). Various people have tried for years to negotiate a public access easement or outright purchase of the property and have gotten nowhere – until last week.
Ross Noland of the Buffalo River Foundation is the latest to take up the challenge and has apparently gotten an agreement in principle for a 180-day option on the outright purchase of the property. Once a few details are dealt-with, that should be signed. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that we’ll need to raise about $80K to make it happen. That will cover the appraisal, survey, closing costs, purchase price, and an endowment fund for protection and management of the property, pending its eventual transfer to the National Park Service. That’s a big chunk of change and it’s especially galling since this has come about because of a mistake by the NPS 35-odd years ago. If we don’t make this happen then we will be stuck with a detour that travels along the river bank, will sometimes be under water, and will probably be a big maintenance headache.
If you’d like to make a pledge, contact the Buffalo River Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Aug 9 ’17 update: There have apparently been a few rounds of changes to the draft purchase option agreement but it may be final now and signed soon. Buffalo River Foundation will apparently start a broader, more public, fund-raising drive in September.