Tomorrow’s Community Panel: Economy, Environment and Buffalo National River


Photo submitted

Neil Compton, U of A alumnus and co-founder of the Ozark Society who led efforts to preserve the Buffalo as a wild river, refueling his Harvester Scout at an Ozarks general store. Special Collections courtesy of University of Alberta Libraries

A community panel, the second in an ongoing series of events celebrating Buffalo National River’s 50th anniversary, will take place in person and online at 2 p.m. Friday, April 29, in the Honors College Lounge at Gearhart Hall. with a reception to follow.

This panel, organized by Jared Phillips, author of Hipbillies: deep revolution in the Ozarks of Arkansasand Joshua Youngblood of the University of Alberta Libraries Special Collections, will lead a public discussion on the complex social and economic issues associated with the creation of Buffalo River National Park.

Disputes over people, place, nature and development swirled around the designation of the park in 1972. Environmentalists advocated keeping the river in its free-flowing state, while those interested in development economy pushed for the construction of a dam on the river for hydroelectric power. Yet a third group – landowners – resisted the loss of their property and livelihoods.

Joining Phillips and Youngblood will be:

  • Brooks Blevins, Noel Boyd Professor of Ozarks Studies of Missouri State University, who will present and moderate a discussion with members of the Villines farming family;
  • Gordon Watkins, Beth Ardapple and Austin Albers of the Buffalo Outdoor Center; and
  • Herb Culver from Bean Mountain Farms.

Panelists will answer questions and discuss the economic and social impacts of Buffalo National Riverpark’s development historically, today, and in the future.

The event will also be streamed live and available online.

This panel is part of The Digital Buffalo project, which was sponsored by the U of A Chancellor’s Fund and is under the direction of the U of A Humanities Center and U of A Libraries. Future events are planned at the U of A Archaeological Survey, the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History, and other community spaces. News about upcoming events, as well as videos of past events and a library of digital materials in development, are available at


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