LITTLE ROCK — A coalition of conservation groups said Wednesday it strongly disagrees with a final finding by the Farm Service Agency and the Small Business Administration that a 6,500-hog facility in Mount Judea has "no significant impact" on the Buffalo National River watershed.

LITTLE ROCK — A coalition of conservation groups said Wednesday it strongly disagrees with a final finding by the Farm Service Agency and the Small Business Administration that a 6,500-hog facility in Mount Judea has "no significant impact" on the Buffalo National River watershed.


The finding, which the Buffalo River Coalition said it learned of Wednesday, follows a draft environmental assessment the federal agencies released in August that contained a similar finding.


The agencies began the assessment after U.S. District Judge Price Marshall ruled in December 2014 in a lawsuit filed by the coalition that the agencies had not done an adequate environmental assessment before guaranteeing federal loans for C&H Hog Farms, which is located near the Big Creek tributary to the Buffalo National River.


The coalition, which includes the Ozark Society, the Buffalo River Watershed Alliance, the Arkansas Canoe Club and the National Parks Conservation Association, said in a statement Wednesday it was considering further legal action.


"The data collected over the past two years by my team and submitted to the agencies puts the likelihood of swine waste from C&H Hog Farms finding its way into the Buffalo National River at 95 percent," said geologist John Van Brahana.


"These data were completely ignored, as were similar comments from noted hydrologist Thomas Aley and the opinions of the National Park Service and U.S. Geological Survey. We have all concluded that the C&H swine operation may have significant adverse impacts, which requires that a full environmental impact statement be prepared."


Hannah Chang, an attorney with Earthjustice, the environmental law firm that represented the coalition in its lawsuit against the agencies, said, "The likelihood of significant environmental harm to America’s first national river mandates a full environmental impact statement, not a finding of no impact that ignores clear data and hard science. With so much at risk, we are compelled to consider our next options for legal action."


The University of Arkansas is conducting a study to determine what impact, if any, C&H has had on the Buffalo National River watershed. Last year, the state Pollution Control and Ecology Commission approved a five-year ban on new medium and large hog farms in the watershed to give the university time to complete its study.


The ban does not affect C&H.