40-50-100: Milestones in Arkansas' Environmental History
2012 marks three important milestones in Arkansas's environmental history: 40 years since the creation of the Buffalo National River, 50 years since the founding of the Ozark Society, and 100 years since the birth of Dr. Neil Compton, founding President of the Ozark Society and champion of Arkansas's wilderness.
This exhibit explores one of the most important events in the environmental history of Arkansas. March 1, 1972, the preservation of one the last wild rivers in America was ensured by the creation of the Buffalo National River Park. The moment marked the culmination of years of work by environmentalists in Arkansas such as Dr. Neil Compton of Bentonville. The creation of the National Park also signaled a victory for the Ozark Society, founded ten years earlier by Compton and others who believed that the Buffalo in its natural state was an essential part of Arkansas's heritage and character, as well as that of the whole Ozarks region.
Several manuscript collections document the “Battle for the Buffalo” and the efforts of activists, politicians, private citizens, and organizations related to environmental preservation and natural resource developmental from the early 20th century to the present day. The materials from Special Collections at the University of Arkansas Libraries used here to tell story of the preservation of the Buffalo River includes selections from the Neil Compton Papers, the Ken Smith papers, the papers of the Ozark Society and the Ozark Society Foundation, the Gus Albright scrapbooks, the Governor Orval E. Faubus Papers, and the Congressman John Paul Hammerschmidt Papers, as well as cherished items from the private collections of Ellen Compton and others.