Under the auspices of the 1938 Flood Control Act, the U.S. Corps of Engineers began to pursue an aggressive dam-building campaign. A grateful public generally lauded their efforts, but when they turned their attention to Arkansas’s Buffalo River, the vocal opposition their proposed projects generated dumbfounded them. Never before had anyone challenged the Corps’ assumption that damming a river was an improvement. Led by Neil Compton, a physician in Bentonville, Arkansas, a group of area conservationists formed the Ozark Society to join the battle for the Buffalo. This book is the account of this decade-long struggle that drew in such political figures as U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, Senator J. William Fulbright, and Governor Orval Faubus. The battle finally ended in 1972 with President Richard Nixon’s designation of the Buffalo as the first national river. Drawing on hundreds of personal letters, photographs, maps, newspaper articles, and reminiscences, Compton’s lively book details the trials, gains, setbacks, and ultimate triumph in one of the first major skirmishes between environmentalists and developers.
The highly anticipated second edition of the Buffalo River Handbook, written by Kenneth L. Smith, updates and expands the first edition initially published in 2004. The new edition includes the recently completed 28-mile segment of the Buffalo River Trail from U.S. Hwy 65 (Grinder’s Ferry) to AR Hwy 14 (Dillard’s Ferry) along the Buffalo National River in north Arkansas. Updates and revisions throughout the book describe the current setting with respect to campsite information and amenities, status of historic structures, and geologic conditions of the river and trails. Ken Smith—conservationist, park planner, and the designer and construction supervisor of most of the eighty miles of the Buffalo River Trail—brings to light in this edition his discerning engineer’s intellect, his photographer’s eye, his love for the outdoors as well as the people and land of the Ozarks and the Buffalo National River, and his passion for the protection and active exploration of our natural resources. An inductee into the Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame in 2017 for his conservation efforts, Smith offers a three-part guide to the river, complete with maps, diagrams and photographs: insights on geology, wildlife, plants, Native Americans, pioneers, and the history of the development of the Buffalo River as the first National river; a detailed guide describing the entire 146-mile length of the river itself; and a guide for over 150 miles of hiking trails. The Buffalo River Handbook, 2nd edition, is a comprehensive reference encyclopedia, a trail and float guide, and a cultural history of the area of north Arkansas that encompasses the Buffalo River—a jewel in the crown of undammed, free-flowing rivers in Arkansas and the nation.