The purpose of the Buffalo National river is to preserve, conserve, and interpret a clear, clean, free-flowing river and its Ozark mountain setting of deep valleys, towering bluffs, wilderness, and pastoral landscapes. it is not one single quality, but the combination of natural, scenic, cultural, and scientific features that are protected for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations.
Superintendent's Compendium 2020
The full text of the park's enabling legislation follows:
(PUBLIC LAW 92-237)
To provide for the establishment of the Buffalo National River in the state of Arkansas, and for other purposes.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled. That for the purposes of conserving and interpreting an area containing unique scenic and scientific features, and preserving as a free-flowing stream an important segment of the Buffalo River in Arkansas for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations, the Secretary of the Interior (hereinafter referred to as the "Secretary") may establish and administer the Buffalo National River. The boundaries of the national river shall be as generally depicted on the drawing entitled "Proposed Buffalo National River" numbered NR-BUF-7103 and dated December 1967, which shall be on file and available for public inspection in the offices of the National Park Service, Department of the Interior. The Secretary is authorized to make minor revisions of the boundaries of the national river when necessary, after advising the Committees on Interior and Insular Affairs of the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate in writing, but the total acreage within such boundaries shall not exceed ninety-five thousand seven hundred and thirty acres.
SEC. 2. (a) Within the boundaries of the Buffalo National River, the Secretary may acquire lands and waters or interests therein by donation, purchase or exchange, except that lands owned by the State of Arkansas or a political subdivision thereof may be acquired only by donation: Provided, That the Secretary may, with funds appropriated for development of the area, reimburse such State for its share of the cost of facilities developed on State park lands if such facilities were developed in a manner approved by the Secretary and if the development of such facilities commenced subsequent to the enactment of this Act: Provided further, That such reimbursement shall not exceed a total of $875,000. When an individual tract of land is only partly within the boundaries of the national river, the Secretary may acquire all of the tract by any of the above methods in order to avoid the payment of severance costs. Land so acquired outside of the boundaries of the national river may be exchanged by the Secretary for non-Federal lands within the national river boundaries, and any portion of the land not utilized for such exchanges may be disposed of in accordance with the provisions of the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949 (6a Stat. 877; 40 U.S.C. 471 et seq.), as amended. With the concurrence of the agency having custody thereof, any Federal property within the boundaries of the national river may be transferred without consideration to the administrative jurisdiction of the Secretary for administration as part of the national river.
(b) Except for property which the Secretary determines to be necessary for the purposes of administration, development, access or public use, an owner or owners (hereafter referred to as "owner") of any improved property which is used solely for noncommercial residential purposes on the date of its acquisition by the Secretary or any owner of lands used solely for agricultural purposes (including, but not limited to, grazing) may retain, as a condition of the acquisition of such property or lands, a right of use and occupancy of such property for such residential or agricultural purposes. The term of the right retained shall expire upon the death of the owner or the death of his spouse, whichever occurs later, or in lieu thereof, after a definite term which shall not exceed twenty-five years after the date of acquisition. The owner shall elect, at the time of conveyance, the term of the right reserved. The Secretary shall pay the owner the fair market value of the property on the date of such acquisition, less the fair market value of the term retained by the owner. Such right may, during its existence, be conveyed or transferred, but all rights of use and occupancy shall be subject to such terms and conditions as the Secretary deems appropriate to assure the use of such property in accordance with the purposes of this Act. Upon a determination that the property, or any portion thereof, has ceased to be used in accordance with such terms and conditions, the Secretary may terminate the right of use and occupancy by tendering to the holder of such right an amount equal to the fair market value, as of the date of the tender, of that portion of the right which remains unexpired on the date of termination.
(c) As used in this section the term "improved property" means a detached year-round one-family dwelling which serves as the owner's permanent place of abode at the time of acquisition, and construction of which was begun before September 3, 1969, together with so much of the land on which the dwelling is situated, the said land being in the same ownership as the dwelling, as the Secretary shall designate to be reasonably necessary for the enjoyment of the dwelling for the sole purpose of noncommercial residential use.
SEC. 3. The Secretary shall permit hunting and fishing on lands and waters under his jurisdiction within the boundaries of the Buffalo National River in accordance with applicable Federal and State laws, except that he may designate zones where and establish periods when, no hunting or fishing shall be permitted for reasons of public safety, administration, fish or wildlife management, or public use and enjoyment. Except in emergencies, any rules and regulations of the Secretary pursuant to this section shall be put into effect only after consultation with the Arkansas Fish and Game Commission.
SEC. 4. The Federal Power Commission shall not license the construction of any dam, water conduit, reservoir, powerhouse, transmission line, or other project works under the Federal Power Act (41 Stat. 1063), as amended (16 U.S.C. 791a et seq.), on or directly affecting the Buffalo National River and no department or agency of the United States shall assist by loan, grant, license, or otherwise in the construction of any water resources project that would have a direct and adverse effect on the values for which such river is established, as determined by the Secretary. Nothing contained in the foregoing sentence, however, shall preclude licensing of, or assistance to, developments below or above the Buffalo National River or on any stream tributary thereto which will not invade the area or unreasonably diminish the scenic, recreational, and fish and wildlife values present in the area on the date of approval of this Act. No department or agency of the United States shall recommend authorization of any water resources project that would have a direct and adverse effect on the values for which such river is established, as determined by the Secretary, nor shall such department or agency request appropriations to begin construction on any such project, whether heretofore or hereafter authorized, without, at least sixty days in advance, (i) advising the Secretary, in writing, of its intention so to do and (ii) reporting to the Committees on Interior and Insular Affairs of the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate, respectively, the nature of the project involved and the manner in which such project would conflict with the purposes of this Act or would affect the national river and the values to be protected by it under this Act.
SEC. 5. The Secretary shall administer, protect, and develop the Buffalo National River in accordance with the provisions of the Act of August 25, 1916 (39 Stat. 535; 16 U.S.C. 1 et seq.), as amended and supplemented; except that any other statutory authority available to the Secretary for the conservation and management of natural resources may be utilized to the extent he finds such authority will further the purposes of this Act.
SEC, 6. Within three years from the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall review the area within the boundaries of the national river and shall report to the President, in accordance with subsections 3(c) and 3(d) of the Wilderness Act (78 Stat. 890; 16 U.S.C.1132 (c) and ( d ) ) , his recommendation as to the suitability or nonsuitability of any area within the national river for preservation as a wilderness, and any designation of any such area as a wilderness, shall
be accomplished in accordance with said subsections of the Wilderness Act.
SEC. 7. For the acquisition of lands and interests in lands, there are authorized to be appropriated not more than $16,115,000. For development of the national river, there are authorized to be appropriated not more than $283,000 in fiscal year 1974; $2,923,000 in fiscal year 1975; $3,643,000 in fiscal year 1976; $1,262,000 in fiscal year 1977; and $1,260,000 in fiscal year 1978. The sums appropriated each year shall remain available until expended.
Approved March 1, 1972.