Support Ozark Riverways!


This is a guest blog from Friends of Ozark Riverways, a local group that is “promoting a respectful management approach for the Ozark National Scenic Riverways.”



Current River, Ozark National Scenic Riverway | © Elizabeth Meyer, NPS

Current River, Ozark National Scenic Riverway | © Elizabeth Meyer, NPS

Sign the petition to keep the Ozark Riverways healhty!

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The National Park Service has released its General Management Plan for the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, with comments due by February 7, 2014. River lovers have been long-awaiting the release of this plan, and a high level of citizen participation is critical to ensuring a well-managed and healthy Riverways for the future.

American Rivers listed the Ozark Riverways among America’s Most Endangered Rivers® of 2011, after decades of rampant proliferation of motor vehicle and horse trails on riverbanks, gravel bars, and wherever they could cross the rivers. The result was erosion, sedimentation, pollution, and overcrowding and conflict among river uses that led many who loved the rivers to stay away. Park managers were unable to stand up to certain politically-backed local interests, and it was easier for regional and national officials to look the other way.

Yet the bluff-lined, dancing Current and Jacks Fork, long the region’s premier streams for paddling, fishing, and other recreation, are well worth saving. These were America’s first federally protected rivers; Congressionally authorized in1964, the 134-mile-long park served as a template for the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968. The region boasts a system of caves and springs unparalleled in North America, and it is an international hotspot of biodiversity, with more than 200 species found nowhere else in the world.

As a result of unprecedented, but highly polarized, public involvement in response to preliminary alternatives in 2009 as well as the Most Endangered Rivers listing, NPS officials at all levels resolved to address the festering problems along the Riverways in the new management plan, which contains a very reasonable range of alternatives.

Friends of Ozark Riverways, an informal coalition of individuals, organizations, and businesses united by our love and respect for the Riverways and our desire to see its rich natural and cultural heritage well managed and protected for future generations, believes that the NPS-preferred Alternative B provides the best balance between protection and established uses, though some of our members support the environmentally preferred Alternative A. We are concerned that the new development envisioned in Alternative C relies too heavily on increased funding and staffing that may not materialize.

Unfortunately, the public review process has already been clouded by strident rhetoric emanating from certain politically-backed segments of the local population and directed against the National Park Service and its purported threat to local access and property rights. Some even advocate that the Riverways be “reclaimed” by the state. We know that there are many people in Ozark communities who want to see better management and encouragement of a family-friendly atmosphere and who believe that this is key to the health of the rivers and their local economies, but they are reluctant to speak out.

This is why it is so imperative that others who love the rivers express their views by commenting on the GMP in a constructive way by February 7. More than 88 percent of the spending attributable to the Riverways that fuels the local economy is by visitors from outside the region. We all have a stake in the health of this priceless resource and now is the time to make our views known.

Please sign our petition and let the National Park Service know that you care about the preservation of Ozark Riverways!

For more information about the GMP and suggestions for submitting your own comments, click here.

9 Responses to “Support Ozark Riverways!”

Curtis Scheib

Please do everything you can to protect these important river systems.

Tom Griffiths

I support the preferred alternative. I have commented previously on the NPS site.

Robert W Moody

After decades of rampant proliferation of motor vehicle and horse trails on riverbanks, gravel bars, and wherever they could cross the rivers. The result was erosion, sedimentation, pollution, and overcrowding and conflict among river uses that led many who loved the rivers to stay away. Park managers were unable to stand up to certain politically-backed local interests, and it was easier for regional and national officials to look the other way. Please protect this area for all of us.

Kally Coleman

Congressman Jason Smith of Missouri’s 8th District (where the Ozark National Scenic Riverways (ONSR) is located) feels only his constituents should have a say in how this National Park is managed. Further, he opposes any changes at Ozark National Scenic Riverways. PLEASE take a moment to submit comments to the National Park Service in support of a new General Management Plan!

Congressman Smith’s video from the House Floor regarding ONSR:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ohj3ay-FEFA&feature=youtu.be

Dave Tobey

Still searching for “high ground” (final thoughts)
January 13, 2014

In my August 7, 2009 letter to the editor of The Current Wave I expressed the hope that local residents and the park could come together and reach “high ground.” Now, four years later, local residents and park officials seem to be standing on opposite sides of the river. To make matters worse, the budget battles from last October and park closures pushed the two parties further apart. If the park is looking for compromise and acceptance from the local community, their timing is poor.

The two opposing sides are now at what appears to be the confluence of two rivers. As a local resident I am hopeful that we can finally accept the park and celebrate the enabling legislation, Public Law 88-492, preserving the Current and Jacks Fork as free flowing rivers. The park is going to do what it has to do “… to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wildlife therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such a manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.” However, the park also needs to be grateful and show appreciation for the “crown jewels” in the park that were given to them by the local residents and the state of Missouri. What would the Ozark National Scenic Riverways be without Round Spring, Alley Spring, and Big Spring? It would be reduced to a few primitive campsites along the river. The park also needs to adopt and display an attitude of social responsibility towards the community. Local residents with a passion for the area are allowed to serve as seasonal employees but rarely given serious consideration for permanent positions that include an opportunity to provide input and leadership in the decision making process. In order for any business or organization to be truly successful and accepted they must be socially responsible to the community in which they operate.

I understand that nostalgia is not what it used to be and we have a romantic notion of what life was like before the park was created. However, the riverways was our community and the park has done little to help conserve this tradition. Rather than forming a partnership with local residents, there is a perception that the park has chosen to become occupying invaders of the community. Real or imagined, local residents have a sense of loss and no longer feel they have input or any ownership in the riverways.

Where can we go from here? We have to turn to our rivers to find a solution. The rivers keep running and we will have to keep trying to come together and look for “high ground.” Local residents will look for some display of social responsibility from the park. At the same time the park will be looking for some acceptance from the community. I believe we really all have the same goal. Please, let’s find our “high ground” and keep going to our rivers for the answers.

Dave Tobey
Eminence, MO