Buffalo marks 40 years as national park

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 97 views 

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Buffalo National River’s designation as a national park, the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism has dedicated a special interactive section of its website to history and information about the Buffalo.

More than that, though, it’s a great place for the Buffalo River faithful to share their memories of camping and floating on the river.

The microsite titled Buffalo National River 40th Anniversary went live on March 1 and by March 20 it had nearly 5,000 visitors, said Kat Robinson, communications manager for tourism department. The site will be up for a year, she said.

“There’s a lot of interest,” she said, not only for the Buffalo, but for other water attractions, as well. Traffic to the lakes and rivers section of the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism website has more than doubled since the Buffalo microsite when up.

“I love the Buffalo River!”
Already, floaters and followers are connecting and sharing information on the site via Facebook.

One post from a woman in Bella Vista read (edited for grammar): “I have spent every summer for 47 years enjoying this beautiful place! My family camped at Buffalo Point the majority of the summer when I was growing up. We met many wonderful friends over the years. This is home to me! I cry every time I leave!

“There is something so magical about the river. It captivates its visitors and begs them to return again! I love my Buffalo River!”

The site’s prominent element is an interactive map with pins marking landings and GPS coordinates along the 135-mile stretch of the river that is part of the national park. Information on outfitters, dining and lodging is just a click further.

It’s well-known — or should be — that the Buffalo National River was under the threat of damming by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers until President Richard Nixon signed a law designating it a national park on March 1, 1972. The late U.S. Sen. J. William Fulbright and former U.S. Rep. John Paul Hammerschmidt, R-Harrison, provided support from Washington. At home, the late Dr. Neil Compton, founding president of the Ozark Society, led a local crusade to save it from damming.

The background, maps and information are all good and well, but nothing beats being there, especially this time of year. However, the tourism department (and a few contributors) do their best to give website visitors a snapshot of the best the river has to offer, from the shiny silver bluffs overlooking Steel Creek to the somewhat elusive Whitaker Point. Visitors are also encouraged to post photos.

The microsite also features blogs from the state’s travel writers, who will report in from the field over the coming year.