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Ozark Society Film Screening & Discussion

Jul 18, 2022

First River: How Arkansas Saved a National Treasure

Join us August 16 at 7:00 pm for the screening of the Ozark Society film, “First River: How Arkansas Saved a National Treasure.” Created for the 50th anniversary of the Buffalo River’s official designation as America’s first National River, this film explores the river’s conservation history as well as contemporary issues facing Arkansas’s Buffalo National River.

After the screening there will be a discussion with some members of the Ozark Society- Highlands & Sugar Creek Chapters.

“First River: How Arkansas Saved a National Treasure” highlights activities in the 1960s to protect the Buffalo National River from plans by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to construct two dams on the waterway. The 53-minute film recognizes the work of Arkansas conservation advocates, state governors and Congressional officials that led to the designation of the Buffalo River as America’s first National River in 1972. The river remains one of the longest undammed rivers west of the Mississippi today.

The documentary includes rare archival footage of key persons in those efforts, including Dr. Neil Compton, the Bentonville physician who created the Ozark Society, and U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Douglas, who assisted in gaining national support for the river’s protection.

“First River” also includes interviews with current National Park Service staff regarding conservation of Arkansas natural areas and the challenges to the Buffalo River watershed from commercial development and recreational usage that brings nearly 1.5-million visitors annually to the area. The lower 135 miles of the river flow within an area managed by the National Park Service and formally designated as the Buffalo National River. The upper 17-mile section flows within the Ozark National Forest managed by the U.S. Forest Service and is designated as a National Wild and Scenic River.

“First River: How Arkansas Saved a National Treasure”
Produced by West Creative Group
Director and Executive Producer: Michelle Weston

About the Ozark Society
The Ozark Society, Inc., was founded in 1962 by Dr. Neil Compton of Bentonville, an Ozark native, and a group of associates for the immediate purpose of saving the Buffalo River from dams proposed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Society founders, working with Sen. J.W. Fulbright, helped get the National Park Service to survey the Buffalo River area and then began to campaign for the creation of the “Buffalo National River” as an alternative to the dams. It took 10 years, but Congress passed legislation to create our nation’s first “national river” in 1972, and it is now one of mid-America’s most outstanding river-oriented attractions. Learn more at ozarksociety.net.