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 ten 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.
The Ozark Society has remained a strong regional organization because it has not allowed itself to be diverted from its principal purpose—the preservation of wild and scenic rivers, wilderness, and unique natural areas. It’s primary focus is the Ozark-Ouachita region and its associated bottom land habitat. The parent Ozark Society serves the membership-at-large—which ranges from Alaska to Florida and several foreign countries—but there are also autonomous chapters that serve as a focal point for membership activities in their areas. There is a network of chapters in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Missouri, all active in conservation affairs in their states. The chapters have separate dues, but membership in the parent organization is also required so that chapter members will have access to the full range of society services, including the Pack & Paddle newsletter, public speaking, consolidated outing schedules, conservation “action” notices, and book discounts.