Smith Creek 640x400
Smith Creek Smith Creek flows into the Buffalo River. © Ethan Inlander

Stories in Arkansas


Smith Creek Preserve: Clean Water and Fragile Wildlife in the Buffalo Headwater.

Say “Buffalo River” and people’s eyes light up. Memories of summer float trips with parents and children, swimming and fishing in cool water on a hot day.… America’s first national river is a treasured part of a great many lives.

Smith Creek is a crucial part of what makes the Buffalo special. Smith Creek rolls and ripples — and after a good rain, roars — into Boxley Valley, where its cool, clear water empties into the upper Buffalo River. To keep clean water flowing to the Buffalo, we must protect Smith Creek.

The Buffalo River Foundation and The Nature Conservancy are working together to keep Smith Creek and surrounding forests healthy for people and wildlife, and we need your help.

In 2004, the Conservancy bought 1,226 acres of beautiful, rugged Ozark forest and two miles of Smith Creek that became Smith Creek Preserve. This original purchase was made possible by a generous discount from the sellers, Elise and the late Marty Roenigk of Eureka Springs, who loved this place deeply and wanted to see it conserved for future generations, and by a grant from Acres for America, a program of Walmart and the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation. Over the years, thousands of visitors have explored the preserve to experience the singular beauty of the Ozarks.

A healthy forest is the key to keeping Smith Creek and the Buffalo River clean. It’s also the key to sustaining the area’s wildlife. Smith Creek Preserve is a vital connector between the 1.2-million-acre Ozark National Forest and the 95,000-acre Buffalo National River, allowing wide-ranging animals like black bear to move from place to place. Elk have also been reintroduced to the area, adding another great tourism draw and reason to visit the valley.

Underneath the preserve lies one of the longest caves in Arkansas, Sherfield Cave, where the state’s largest colony of endangered Indiana bats hibernates each winter. These and other bats use the surrounding forest for food and shelter.

As scientists predicted, White Nose Syndrome — a deadly fungus that has been decimating bat populations as it spreads through the U.S. — has reached Arkansas. No one knows how to prevent it or treat it, but we can give these helpful creatures every advantage by protecting their forested habitat.

We recently had the opportunity to expand Smith Creek Preserve and safeguard more of this important landscape. Thanks to support from generous donors like you, a 90-acre neighboring property that contains critical forest habitat, includes two creeks that flow into Smith Creek, multiple springs, and offers breathtaking views was acquired. The Buffalo River Foundation and The Nature Conservancy partnered together to purchase the property, and with your help raised $190,000 for the land and associated stewardship and management costs. But there is more work to do. By making a generous gift or pledge today, you can be part of sustaining the waters and wildlife of the Buffalo River as national treasures for many tomorrows. It’s a legacy in which you can take great pride.

For more information, or to get invloved, contact:

Scott Simon

The Nature Conservancy


Phone: (501) 614-5082


Ross Noland

Buffalo River Foundation


Phone: (501) 351-0051