ST LOUIS, MO—
The National Park Service’s draft General Management Plan for the Ozark National Scenic Riverways offers potentially tremendous improvements in protection and restoration for two of Missouri’s most beautiful rivers. The NPS released the draft GMP on November 8th, after almost 9 years of delays. The NPS will select one of the three alternatives presented in the draft plan and use it to guide the management of the park for the next twenty years. Environment Missouri’s response may be found at http://environmentmissouri.org/reports/moe/official-comment-ozark-national-scenic-riverways-draft-general-management-plan.
“It’s really heartening to see the effect that tens of thousands of Missourians raising their voice to protect the Current and Jacks Fork rivers have had on this plan” said Stuart Keating, Environment Missouri advocate. “The plan offers three alternatives, and all of them represent improvements over the current management of the park, closing illegal access points, limiting horsepower on ecologically sensitive areas of the river and ensuring sustainable and sensible recreational horse use.”
The public can find the plan on the NPS website and may comment on the plan until February 7th, when the plan will undergo final review and approval by the NPS. “While the NPS favors Alternative B, which they argue will provide the most balance between uses of the park, we think Alternative A—which does the most to restore the river for future generations to experience and enjoy—is the alternative that best conforms to the NPS’ original goals in establishing the park.” said Keating. “Alternative A will close the most illegal roads, create the most miles of hiking trails, and restore more of the park to its 1964 state than the other alternatives.”
Though the draft plan’s alternatives vary in detail, all alternatives call for some portion of the Big Spring area to be recommended as a wilderness area, all alternatives limit horsepower on the rivers, and all three will redistribute concessioner load and offload points to ease congestion. “The fact that the plan finally came out is by itself a tremendous victory for the thousands of citizens across Missouri who have signed petitions, written letters and made phone calls to protect the rivers they love.” said Keating. “The draft plan has the potential to really restore and protect the Current and Jacks Fork rivers, and we urge the NPS to select the strongest possible management alternative.”
The plan is currently available for public comment. The National Park Service plans to hold three public hearings, one in Van Buren on January 7th and two on January 8th in Salem and Kirkwood. The comment period closes on February 7th and the NPS undertakes a final review before selecting one of the three alternatives.
Environment Missouri is a statewide, citizen-based, environmental advocacy organization. www.environmentmissouri.org