On this page we will add links to files that are of relevance to the quality of the public land at Ozark National Scenic Riverways. Many studies have been conducted that show the degeneration of the quality of the Riverways. It can be hard to sort through a lot of it, but it is important that we be familiar with the studies.
USGS water quality studies on the jacks fork were conducted after it was found that the Jacks Fork river did not meet state standards for full body contact. The studies were conducted in three phases, spanning several years.
In Phase III it was found that
"recreational users (including boaters and swimmers) are not the primary source of fecal coliform bacteria in the Jacks Fork; rather, the presence of fecal coliform bacteria is associated with other animals, of which horses are the primary source. Increases in fecal coliform bacteria densities in the Jacks Fork are associated with cross-country horse back trail-riding events."
This finding is significant because it should influence the way the waterways are managed to address the problem of bacterial contamination. The management strategies that would be put into place to solve the issue are generally referred to as "best management practices". Some of these practices were suggested by the Department of Natural Resources back in 2004, after Phase II of the USGS report was published, in their document outlining the total maximum daily load for the river in light of the bacterial contamination. This document can be found here:
Missouri Department of Natural Resources Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) for the Jacks Fork River
In section 9 of this document, it lays out a plan to reverse the damage to the riverways. Among this are the building of sustainable trails for horses, moving livestock away from the rivers, evaluation of septic systems in the riverways, and updating the National Park Services carrying capacity study. A grant has been awarded to the Jacks Fork watershed committee to address some of these issues. However, the creation of new and ecologically sustainable trails, as well as conducting a carrying capacity study for the existing trails, remains in the hands of the National Park Service.