The Man, The River, The Legacy

Comp­ton cel­e­bra­tion hon­ors en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist’s work

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - BENTONVILLE - LARA JO HIGHTOWER

When the friends of Comp­ton Gar­dens and Con­fer­ence Cen­ter in Bentonville host their Dr. Comp­ton Cel­e­bra­tion to­day, they’ll be hon­or­ing the mem­ory of a man who spent much of his life mak­ing sure the nat­u­ral beauty of the Buf­falo River was pro­tected. Neil Comp­ton founded the Ozark So­ci­ety to Save the Buf­falo River (now known as the Ozark So­ci­ety). Un­der his lead­er­ship, the or­ga­ni­za­tion suc­cess­fully stopped con­struc­tion of two Army Corps of En­gi­neer dams that were pro­posed for the river, and Comp­ton was in­stru­men­tal in the push to have the Buf­falo River des­ig­nated a Na­tional River in the Na­tional Park Sys­tem.

“Comp­ton Gar­dens is Dr. Comp­ton’s per­sonal home that he lived in in the 1970s,” Jennifer Grimes, event co­or­di­na­tor for the Peel Comp­ton Foun­da­tion, says of the six-and-ahalf acres that in­clude the house and gar­dens right off the Bentonville square. “The Ozark So­ci­ety’s ef­forts went to­ward pre­serv­ing the nat­u­ral land­scape, and pretty much all of the land­scape around Comp­ton Gar­dens is na­tive plants. His home has been turned in to an event venue and con­fer­ence cen­ter, used for wed­dings and cor­po­rate rentals.”

Grimes says the Dr. Comp­ton Cel­e­bra­tion is held once a year and is well-at­tended by many peo­ple who worked with Comp­ton in his en­vi­ron­men­tal ef­forts.

“This is re­ally just a cel­e­bra­tion and an ef­fort to bring aware­ness to his ef­forts of sav­ing the Buf­falo River,” says Grimes. “We want to cel­e­brate his life and legacy.”

Grimes says that this year will mark the first time that the event is be­ing ex­panded to in­clude the en­tire fam­ily.

“We’re ex­pand­ing it to the day, so that the whole fam­ily can be a part of it,” she says. Start­ing at 9 a.m. to­day, kid-friendly events like rock paint­ing, a story walk and the Amazeum’s Bird Beak Buf­fet are just a few of the fun ac­tiv­i­ties planned. The cock­tail re­cep­tion will be­gin at 5 p.m. and will fea­ture a pre­sen­ta­tion by Mike Mills of Buf­falo River Out­fit­ters and a mu­si­cal per­for­mance by Still on the Hill.

“We’re hop­ing that by do­ing these pro­grams, we can bring more aware­ness and ex­pand more ed­u­ca­tional youth and en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­grams next year,” says Grimes.

Neil Ernest Comp­ton of Bentonville is widely rec­og­nized as the founder of the Ozark So­ci­ety to Save the Buf­falo River.

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