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Bid In Congress To Have Ozark National Scenic Riverways Given To State Of Missouri

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Will Congress go along with a plan to give the Ozark National Scenic Riverways to the state of Missouri?/Marty Koch

Is Congress in the mood to return units of the National Park System back to the states in which they are located? An indication could come Tuesday, when a U.S. House of Representatives Committee considers legislation that calls for Ozark National Scenic Riverways to be given to the state of Missouri.

The legislation is the darling of Rep. Jason Smith, a Republican who doesn't want the National Park Service to implement a management plan that would bring an end to some 65 miles of illegal horse trails in the park and place limits on the horsepower of motorboats that use the Current and Jacks Fork rivers that flow through the Riverways.

In his legislation, H.R. 4020, which was introduced to Congress back in February and is scheduled to come up for discussion Tuesday before the House Subcommittee on Public Land and Environmental Regulation, Mr. Smith argues that the proposed management plan would "prevent members of the public from accessing the lands that compose the park." To accomplish the transfer, the Republican wants the federal government to pay all costs associated with it.

Mr. Smith also provides an avenue for the federal government to reacquire the Riverways: if the state of Missouri ever attempted to sell portions of it, or if the state managed the Riverway in a way other than how its been managed under the Park Service.

Perhaps to cover his bets in case the committee fails to report the bill out to the House floor, Rep. Smith has another measure for the committee's consideration. H.R. 4182, if passed, would essentially prohibit the Park Service from implementing the General Management Plan now under consideration.

Proponents 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.

Opponents, including Rep. Smith, counter that the approach would convert "the vast majority of the park to a natural area where evidence of human use is minimal." From his perspective, the Republican maintains the park's 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.

The preferred alternative does state the Park Service's intention to gain control over motorized watercraft on the rivers, in part by increasing the percentage of river corridor open only to non-motorized watercraft (ie., canoes or kayaks). And the proposal aims to better manage camping on gravel bars by restricting to designated campsites where visitors could drive their vehicles.

The preferred alternative also would create "river management zoning," under which efforts to better manage motorized and non-motorized river use would be instituted. Under the plan, 34 percent of the Current and Jacks Fork rivers would be restricted to non-motorized craft, 14 percent would be open to motorized and non-motorized during the high season that falls between March 15 and Labor Day, and 52 percent would be open to both motorized and non-motorized traffic year-round.

Comments

  Why is it that, in the eyes of a republican, everything is about soemone making a profit.  They constantly complain about the national debt and what it's going to do to our grandkids but seem to care less if the planet is not fit for our grandkids to live on. We've all seen what has happened to the rivers in North Carolina, is there any reason to belive Missouri would do a better job managing theirs?


What does this proposal have to do with making a profit?  I don't see any reference to such in the bill or in Kurt's discussion.

We've all seen what has happened to the rivers in North Carolina

I haven't - other than enjoying some of them. Perhaps your could elaborate.

 


At a glance, the management plans make sense and this bill appears to be a tantum attempt to influence something he has no contol ove.


"To accomplish the transfer, the Republican wants the federal government to pay all costs associated with it."

What, more federal spending proposed by a Republican? It would be interesting to have all the details about what "all costs associated with the transfer" really means under Rep. Smith's plan. Could end up having an aroma of frying pork before all was said and done.


What, more federal spending proposed by a Republican?

No, less.  The government pays one time cost for "conveyence" and gives up the costs of operation in perpetuity.

"The Federal Government shall pay all of the costs of the conveyance under this section."

That's the details. 

 


The NPS has grown too big and budgets are spread too thin. If we can eliminate a unit from the NPS and know that said unit will still be used for recreation (even if it is motorized, equestrain, or other forms recreation that wilderness purists do not like), lets do the transfer. I have no problem having the federal government paying to facilitate the transfer. One time cost versus an ongoing cost, as EC pointed out. NPS money not spent at this site in the future means more dollars to spend at other parks.

"Mr. Smith also provides an avenue for the federal government to reacquire the Riverways: if the state of Missouri ever attempted to sell portions of it, or if the state managed the Riverway in a way other than how its been managed under the Park Service."

This provision gives me some level of reassurance. I would support a transfer to state control.

This issue is in no way related to some western states desire to have federal land turned over to state control. In that case, future sale and devlopment is implied. In the case brought up in this article, the site will still be managed for recreation and not developed.


Generally I concur with "Rambler." But this is an interesting test of wills between those politicos who favor home rule and the vision of a "system of parks." It's true that NPS has more than it can handle, but where do we go from here? Shore up the system to do more across the nation, maintain the status quo or cut parks loose to local interests or user preferences? It will be interesting to see how this plays out.


Re: my comment on the details about "The Federal Government shall pay all of the costs of the conveyance under this section." - 

Contrary to ec's opinion, that very broad statement doesn't provide any "details" at all. 

Nothing about "all the costs of conveyance" says it is a one-time cost. One might assume that, but never make an assumption about politicians, especially when the authority to spend money is involved!

My skepticism stems from another phrase congress likes to throw into some bills dealing with parks: "...and other purposes." That one is a favorite of politicians to stretch the original intention of a bill.

It's quite possible Rep. Smith has plenty of other "costs" in mind beyond merely changing a few signs. We don't know, and that's the issue. Never give a politican a power to spend money without some clearly defined limits.


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