The preceding review makes it clear that the Ozark National Scenic Riverways needs reform. The primary solutions for reform are:
•Overdevelopment and Motorized Intrusion — The Park Service must dramatically reduce the number of motorized access points, at least by one half. The Park Service must also act immediately to energetically enforce existing laws prohibiting illegal vehicle trespass.
•Scenic Easements — The Park Service must reform its administration of the publicly-owned easements on the Riverways, correct past abuses, and prevent future ones.
•Commercial Horse Over-Use — The Park Service must establish and enforce reasonable regulations regarding the number of horses allowed on the Riverways, reduce the number of river crossings within the park, and develop a trail system which protects the riparian habitats along the river.
•Overcrowding — The Park Service must identify the carrying capacity of the rivers for all uses. All concessions operations must be coordinated so as to ensure that conflicts are minimized. Existing horsepower regulations on boats must be enforced. Peace and quiet should be a priority resource.
•Wilderness — The Park Service must continue to manage the Big Spring backcountry so as to protect its existing wild and roadless character. The agency also should encourage and work with the Forest Service to protect is portion of this scarce resource. Congress will then have an opportunity to consider the permanent protection of the valuable area.
As Missourians have learned more about the actual condition of the Current and Jacks Fork Rivers, they have begun to speak out. Following presentation and discussion, a landmark resolution was adopted in March 2009 by Missouri’s largest and most broad based conservation organization, the Conservation Federation of Missouri:
“Now, therefore be it resolved that the Conservation Federation of Missouri assembled at the Lodge of Four Seasons, Lake Ozark, MO, this 1st day of March, 2009 reaffirms its long-standing and strong interest in the well-being of the Current and Jacks Fork Rivers, and the national park which is charged with their proper stewardship; recognizes that there are resource problems related to overdevelopment, scenic easement enforcement, uncontrolled vehicular trespass, and over-concentrated equestrian usage in certain places and at certain times; and is committed to the proper and satisfactory resolution of these issues for the benefit of the natural integrity of the Riverways for present and future generations; and hereby commits itself to vigorous involvement in the public review process to assure that the new General Management Plan addresses and corrects these resource issues, and urges all of the Missouri Congressional delegation to support the Riverways and the protection of its natural resources.”
Conservation Federation of Missouri
The affiliated members of the Federation include 80 organizations throughout Missouri and 85,000 members. The Missouri Parks Association, at its 2008 annual meeting at Montauk State Park, also resolved to work towards improving the management at this park. In fact, a new group devoted specifically to the reform agenda outlined in the publication, has now come into existence, the Friends of Ozark Riverways (www.friendsofozarkriverways.org). Together, we are committed to restoring Missouri’s finest river to a condition of which all Missourians and the nation can once again be proud.
For Friends of Ozark Riverways:
Ron Coleman (The Open Space Council St. Louis)
Terry Cunningham (Pioneer Forest)
Leo and Kay Drey (Conservationists)
Susan Flader (Missouri Parks Association)
Honorable Wayne Goode (Retired, Missouri State Senate)
Ted Heisel (Attorney)
Kally Coleman Higgins (Carter County Missouri native)
Greg Iffrig (Pioneer Forest)
John Karel (L-A-D Foundation)
Kat Logan Smith (Missouri Coalition for the Environment)
Rindy O'Brien (Former legislative staff, US Senate)
Charley Putnam (Retired National Park Service, ONSR)
Tony Robyn (Audubon Missour)
Jerry Sugerman (Friends of Ozark Riverways)
Terry Whaley (Ozark Greenways)