Important Bird Areas

Buffalo National River Designated Important Bird Area

America's first national river a corridor for conservation

Steel Creek area of the Buffalo National River IBA Photo: Joseph Neal

Audubon Arkansas today announced the designation of Important Bird Area (IBA) status for the Buffalo National River, a unit of the National Park System administered by the Department of the Interior and America’s first National River. 

“Important Bird Areas are sites that provide essential habitat for breeding, wintering, or migrating bird species,” said Dr. Dan Scheiman, Bird Conservation Director for Audubon Arkansas. “Protecting these places gives us the greatest bang for our conservation buck.” The IBA program is a global effort to identify the areas most important for long-term bird protection.

“The Buffalo National River is home to approximately 200 bird species, providing critical habitat and an important stop for many along their migratory routes,” said Emily Jones, senior southeast program manager for the National Parks Conservation Association. “Clean water is essential to our health, the health of our national parks and the health of native wildlife that call the Buffalo home. It takes all of us working together to protect the health of the national river.”

With the entire river corridor protected as public land, the Buffalo National River is a critical link in a key block of public lands (some recognized previously by Audubon as IBAs) in the Arkansas Ozarks. The Buffalo National River connects lands owned by The Nature Conservancy, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, and U.S. Forest Service. “Taken as a whole, this public land provides the best opportunity to manage and protect a wide range of bird species, including many that are declining,” commented Joe Neal, Field Trip Chair of the Northwestern Arkansas Audubon Society and coauthor of “Arkansas Birds.”

C.D. Scott, wildlife biologist for the Buffalo National River, pointed out that, “IBA designation is supported by bird observations made by Park Service staff, research scientists, and citizen scientists.” The Buffalo National River is important for a diversity of bird species, among them are Bald Eagle, Northern Bobwhite, Cerulean Warbler, Swainson’s Warbler, and Louisiana Waterthrush.

“Arkansans can be proud of this designation,” said Jack Stewart, local resident and Buffalo National River Partners board member. “Arkansans came together to protect the river in the 1950s, and it remains important for people and birds today.” Mr. Stewart voluntarily included his property in the IBA boundary.

The Buffalo National River, which runs through Newton, Searcy, Marion, and Baxter counties, became the first National River in the United States on March 1, 1972. It is one of the few remaining free-flowing rivers in the lower forty-eight states.

For more information on Arkansas’s IBA Program visit

Audubon Arkansas, the state office of the National Audubon Society with over 2,200 members in the state, works to protect birds, other wildlife, and their habitats through education, research, conservation, and legislative advocacy. The state office is located in Little Rock at 501-244-2229.

To learn more about this IBA contact:

The Buffalo National River, C.D. Scott 870-416-5371

Buffalo National River Partners, Jack Stewart 870-715-0260

National Parks Conservation Association, Emily A. Jones, Sr. Program Manager, Southeast Region, 865.329.2424 ext. 26 I I

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