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Missouri Official Wants State To Reclaim Ozark National Scenic Riverways From National Park Service

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While National Park Service personnel are trying to craft a long-term management plan for Ozark National Scenic Riverways, Missouri's lieutenant government is making a pitch for the state to "reclaim this resource."

The planning efforts have unleashed a battle in Missouri, where some believe the Park Service's draft preferred alternative would greatly restrict access to the Jack Fork and Current rivers that are at the heart of the riverways.

As the Traveler reported last month, a freshman congressman from Missouri's 8th District maintains that the park's approach would convert "the vast majority of the park to a natural area where evidence of human use is minimal." From his perspective, U.S. Rep. Jason Smith maintains the preferred alternative would be devastating to area economies and continue what he sees as efforts by the Park Service to limit access to the forests and rivers within the National Riverways.

Now Missouri's lieutenant governor, Peter Kinder, has penned an op-ed calling for the Show-Me State to show it can better take care of the riverways than the federal government.

"Under the supposed benevolent care of the federal government, Ozark National Riverways is threatened. The solution should not be to give that same federal government more authority and power over the area’s management," he wrote. "Doing so not only will restrict Missourians and visitors from enjoying time on the Jacks Fork and Current, but will hurt many small businesses in southern Missouri that depend on tourism and recreation dollars. The last thing this region needs is more overbearing management by bureaucrats in Washington.

"The creation and management of parks is clearly a responsibility that Missouri handles well. There is no reason to believe it would be any different with a state-managed Ozark Scenic Riverways. It’s time for Missouri to begin efforts to reclaim this resource from the federal government."

Supporters of the park's planning efforts say the structure of the preferred alternative in the draft General Management Plan is long overdue and necessary to prevent further degradation of the 134 miles of the Jacks Fork and Current rivers that course through the rumpled, cave-studded, spring-gushing countryside of southern Missouri's Ozark Mountains.

Over the years park officials have grappled with their mandate to preserve and protect the rivers. Rowdy boaters, drunken behavior, camping illegally on gravel bars, and the preponderance of unauthorized trails woven into the parkscape -- 65 miles of unauthorized horse trails, for example -- have challenged the staff. Indeed, a root of the uproar over the draft management plan that is now open for public comment can be traced to how the Park Service has managed, or in some views mismanaged, the National Riverways that was authorized in 1964 and officially dedicated in 1972.

"Frankly, enforcement has been the biggest problem over the past 30 years," said Lynn McClure, who as director of the National Parks Conservation Association's Midwest Office is studying the draft GMP and preparing comments on it. “It’s not an easy park to patrol. No. 1, it’s got a lot of linear miles to it on two sides of a river. You multiply that park boundary one way by two. It’s not easy to patrol.

"What’s happened I think over the last 30 years, the norm has become something that really wasn’t allowed at the park, in terms of what size of a boat you’re supposed to run on the river, in terms of pulling vehicles, cars, trucks, whatever into the middle of the river, onto the gravel bars and just parking," Ms. McClure said last week while discussing the draft document. "There are gravel bars where vehicle use or truck use is allowed, but it’s just become more common to just pull the truck out into the river."

From his office, Lt. Gov. Kinder has acknowledged that "rowdy behavior along the rivers, illegal camping and unauthorized trails have threatened the pristine area." At the same time, he doesn't believe the Park Service has the proper solution to controlling that behavior.

"The federal government's solution, at the urging of environmentalists, is to restrict access to the water and the abutting lands," he maintained.

Details of the draft management plan can be found on this page. Comments are being taken through February 7, and you can leave them on that page, too.

Comments

Here's a link to Kinder's entire op-ed (which doesn't include much more than what's quoted above): http://www.semissourian.com/story/2037815.html

Very little substance. Mostly just incendiary rhetoric, false choices, and a string of cliches.


"Very little substance. Mostly just incendiary rhetoric, false choices, and a string of cliches."

Gee, that sounds familiar doesn't it?

But too often, for some people, that's all they have to offer.


I was searching the web for the "why" of the creation of ONSR and really found nothing that explained in detail the reasoning behind it. However, I did find this wonderfully informative Traveler article in two parts, for anyone interested: Part 1, Part 2.


Thanks for that link to the companion pieces, dahkota.


Very little substance. Mostly just incendiary rhetoric, false choices, and a string of cliches.

I read the piece and saw none of this. Perhaps you would like to identify specific phrases that meet these criteria and refute them. And please, don't quote out of context in order to decieve.


Lt. Gov. Kinder has acknowledged that "rowdy behavior along the rivers, illegal camping and unauthorized trails have threatened the pristine area." At the same time, he doesn't believe the Park Service has the proper solution to controlling that behavior.

Mr. Kirk doesn't, however, offer any hints about his "proper solution to controlling that behavior" under state management of Ozark Riveways.

My personal knowledge about Missouri's state parks and recreation areas is very limited, but from what I can infer from limited browsing on-line, they seem to be well-managed. If that's true, perhaps it's due to a combination of adequate funding and staffing, limited size when compared to Ozark Riverways, and stringent enforcement of regulations on "rowdy behavior" and activities that "threaten pristine areas."

Interestingly, it appears that the policies and regulations that apply to visitor activities in Missouri State Parks are generally more even more restrictive than the NPS imposes or proposes at Ozark Riverways. Some examples are found here and at this link.

It would be interesting to see the reactions of the locals if the state proposed to apply and enforce those same rules at Ozark Riveways:-)


Mr. Kirk doesn't, however, offer any hints about his "proper solution to controlling that behavior" under state management of Ozark Riveways.

Au contraire - he cites (as do you) the "well-managed" parks throughout the state. That sure "hints" to me that it would be run with similar solutions.


I noticed the same thing, Jim. Kinder claims that Missouri can better address these specific issues than the NPS proposals, but never goes on to explain what his proposals are, how they differ from the NPs ones, or how they would better address them. In short, he takes a stance but never supports it--i.e. little sub-stance.

In fact, his "argument" is also pretty incoherent:

Over the years, though, rowdy behavior along the rivers, illegal camping and unauthorized trails have threatened the pristine area. The federal government's solution, at the urging of environmentalists, is to restrict access to the water and the abutting lands.

Obviously, eliminating "illegal camping and unauthorized trails" would by definition mean "restrict[ing] access to the water and the abutting lands." (In other words, illegal camping and unauthorized trails are unrestricted access, which is what, Kinder agrees, is threatening the pristine area.) So, what is the problem with this solution? Kinder never explains this, either.


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