Floating Missouri’s rivers is just part of Missouri culture. Every summer thousands descend on the Ozark area for some paddling, fishing, camping, beer and camaraderie among friends. The Jacks Fork and Current River hold beauty that cannot be described by words. Not to mention, the Current River is one of the finest trout streams in the country. This beauty and host of trout is what brings so many people to these rivers. However this beauty and the trout are in danger; these rivers are in peril. While all should be able to see the crystal clear spring fed waters in these rivers, the overuse of the rivers causes significant damage. Effects of this overuse is evident currently by the water not running quite as clear as it once did, the erosion of shorelines and the deterioration of the natural habitat.
The National Park service originally called for just a few access areas, but recent history has added more access areas via trails and roads directly to the river’s edge. With more access points, come more people leaving behind more than footprints. The off road vehicles and ATV’s reek havoc on the soil and plants, leaving behind pollution and ruts. Enjoying nature by horseback is a one of a kind experience, but is extremely detrimental when done to the level of excess; which occurs at the present time in this area. The waste is too much for the habitat to absorb, and makes the water unsafe for whole body contact. Egads! That cannot be healthy for the trout. Also, these heavy animals cause ruts which equals more erosion and more sediment in the rivers.
While the above paragraph is doom and gloom, there is hope in this paragraph. The National Park Service is now developing a new management plan for the Ozark National Scenic Riverways. The best part of this is, they are seeking the public’s opinion. As a lover of cool clear waters and the fish that inhabit them, it is nice to know my voice will be heard. I hope other anglers, and others that want to preserve nature make their voice heard as well. I know it may seem like a daunting task to write a letter or make a call, but The Sierra Club outlined some key areas to help compose a letter or form a conversation. They suggest 4 major problems that need addressed. Find them listed below courtesy of the Missouri Sierran:
- “Overdevelopment and motorized intrusion: too many unauthorized access points for motorized access along the river resulting in damaged and unsightly river banks, wildlife habitat loss, degraded recreational opportunities for those seeking a quiet river journey.”
- “Commercial horse over-use: horseback riding is permitted in the park, but the numbers have been out of control – so much so that horse waste has at time contaminated the river so that it is unsafe for whole body contact.”
- “Scenic easements: these are voluntary agreement which permit controlled development in private lands along the river. Unfortunately these agreements are not always honored.”
- “Over – crowding: The Ozark National Scenic Riverways was established in 1967. Since then the rivers have become more motorized, more crowded and more polluted.”
Doing our part,
Stephanie & Dustin