(Photo: National Park Service)
ARKANSAS (KTHV) - The government shutdown continues to send ripple effects across the country. In north Arkansas, all access to The Buffalo National River has been blocked.
The Buffalo River, Arkansas' most popular float stream, was unusually quiet Thursday morning. In fact, the fish and wildlife had the river to themselves.
The shutdown is affecting business owners like Ben Fruehauf, who owns Buffalo Camping and Canoeing and The Gilbert General Store. Fruehauf said orange barricades now sit at all of the access areas along the river.
"Shutdown means, totally shutdown," he explained. "If you step on there, they have the right to write you a ticket, incarcerate you."
Fruehauf said this shutdown has left him with stacks of canoes he can't put on the river.
"It's very difficult to hold up our end of the bargain when we can't even take a step on park property," he added.
With risk of losing his concession permit, Fruehauf said he has no choice but to halt his canoe rentals.
"We're having to turn people away through the end of the year," Fruehauf explained. This is costing his business hundreds of dollars a day. "It's $45 for the day. If you throw in two people with a shuttle, with tax, $68."
Fruehauf also owns several cabin rentals. For a county that relies on tourism income, Fruehauf said the river's closure is trickling down to restaurants, camp sites and stores in the area.
"The river draws the people for cabins, for camping, for the restaurants." he went on. "Melissa at the Gilbert Cafe, Jim at the RV campground here in Gilbert. It's a domino effect."
The Buffalo National River area is also closed to hunters, hikers and horse riders-all of which are potential customers.
"Basically, it's security for my family and then I look at this little municipality, you know the sales tax that are generated," he concluded. "There's nothing happening here."
Twenty out of 91 employees at the Buffalo National River stay on duty during the shutdown. That includes law enforcement, dispatch and some maintenance staff.