MARSHALL, Ark. – Discussions continued Saturday night over a potential designation change to the Buffalo National River.

As a national river, certain areas are protected from any sort of development, but if it is changed, rules set in place for years could go out the window.

People took time out of their Saturday to have some of these discussions in Marshall.

Citizens have been voicing concern since the Runway Group, based out of Northwest Arkansas surveyed residents of Baxter, Madison, Marion, Newton, and Searcy counties.

One of the questions on the survey asked the public if they thought it was a good or bad idea to turn the land surrounding the river into a national park and preserve it.

Though the survey suggested support for a change, many locals strongly oppose the idea, saying this discussion opened wounds from 51 years ago, when the buffalo was designated a national river.

Greater Searcy County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Darryl Treat said they are remaining vigilant in making sure their voices and opinions are heard. 

“We will continue to promote tourism and try to advance tourism here, but we also want to defend our right to have a voice in what happens in our own home,” Treat said.

Randy McCutcheon’s family has lived in Searcy County for generations.

“Change will come, and we know that, the people here need a voice, and that’s what you’re seeing tonight, a voice,” McCutcheon said.

There is currently no proposal to redesignate the river. People within the Buffalo National River Watershed want to ensure that if a proposal is made, their local and state elected leaders know their stance. 

KARK 4 News did reach out to the Runway Group for comment concerning the meeting but has not yet heard back. However, on the Runway website, they have a frequently asked questions section, where you can view previous statements on the Buffalo National River.