Over the last several decades, many river access points in Arkansas have been closed by local land owners.
If you talk to the landowners, the Number One reason they have closed or are considering closing accesses is "Litter and Illegal Dumping". We also hear complaints about "illegal behavior" (usually drinking and smoking), and people camping or building camp fires on their property without permission.
Please help us prevent MORE landowners from closing off accesses by doing these things:
1. ALWAYS take a few minutes to pick up litter you see at any river access you are using. If the area is heavily littered and you can't get it all, then pick up at least one "Walmart" bag or an equivalent amount of litter. The goal is to leave it visibly better than you found it!
2. DO NOT camp or build fires on property you do not own without permission. Try to avoid "high water mark" and "navigability" type legal arguments with any landowners you meet. Even if you are technically correct, the discussion and your attitude might spur the landowner to take legal action to have "his" stream declared non-navigable by a court, and there is no guarantee as to which side would win, especially if it is a smaller stream with no commercial outfitters that rent boats, which is most streams in Arkansas. The Arkansas Law on Road Closures (14-298-117) also provides a process by which a road deemed "useless" can be removed from the County road system and gated by local landowners. The notification requirements for such closures are relatively weak, so a road could be closed and a gate installed before any paddler becomes aware that closure has been requested.
3. Be considerate of where and how you park your car. Be sure you are not blocking access to a gate or fence opening. Avoid parking in an area where your tires will "rut up" the shoulder of the road or the landowner's field. If possible, find the landowner and ask permission to park there for the day.
4. If you see more litter than you can reasonably collect in a few minutes, or illegal dumping of heavier items, consider organizing a cleanup, or getting your local Canoe Club chapter to do that. There are plenty of days per year when it is too low to float, so use one of those days to protect your ability to float that stream in the future. Even one such cleanup will be remembered by the landowner for years to come. And remember - clean ups do not have to be big, complicated affairs. Just 2 or 3 people with a pickup truck or trailer can make an amazing difference in about 2 to 3 hours! Persons doing cleanups can almost always dispose of tires or other bulky items without being charged at the landfill, it's mostly about finding someone who knows who to ask in your area.
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