Today representatives from statewide environmental, fishing, paddling, and conservation organizations put the National Park Service on notice that more is expected in managing the Current River for the future.
American Rivers, a national conservation organization, issued its annual “America’s Most Endangered Rivers” report, and for the first time in the report’s 26-year history, the Ozark National Scenic Riverways park has been named one of the top ten endangered rivers.
“We have to do more today to avert the catastrophes of tomorrow,” says Kally Higgins, spokesperson for the Friends of Ozark Riverways. “We are seeing visible signs that the health of the Current River is in trouble. For example, we have seen in recent years restrictions on swimming at certain areas because of too high bacteria, and we are most concerned over erosion where inappropriate access points have sprung up. In fact, there are more than 130 access points that the Coalition has documented. It works out that it is the equivalent of one access point per mile. It is simply too much for the river to handle.”
The Current River is managed by the National Park Service and was established to provide both recreation and protection for the scenic beauty. The park features more than 350 springs, including the National Park’s largest spring, 338 recorded caves, and 200 wildlife species are found nowhere else in the world.
Speaking at today’s press conference, business owner, Lisa Hollenbeck, co-owner of Alpine Shop of Kirkwood, Missouri, said, “There is a quantifiable return on investment when we invest in our public lands and waters as exemplified by the recreation economy. The Current River offers the kind of access that is good for business and our economy.”
Coalition member Ron Coleman of The Open Space Council St. Louis noted, “The Ozark National Scenic Riverways is one of Missouri’s greatest natural treasures and is deserving of the highest level of management by the National Park Service. Overuse and abuse of this premier Ozark open space must be managed in a sustainable manner that insures for its long term conservation and outdoor recreation value to our state and nation.”
“The Coalition and American Rivers are asking that the National Park Service bring the Current River up to the gold standard of the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone Park,” said Kally Higgins. “We have a chance to write the future general management plan to address the mistakes of the past and guarantee that future generations can enjoy the river for fishing and recreation.”
Contact for more information: Rindy O’Brien, Friends of Ozark Riverways, 202-247-5290 Faye Augustyn, American Rivers, 202-347-7550 Kat Logan Smith, Coalition for the Environment, 314-229-3042
Last Updated on Wednesday, 06 June 2012 00:55
A Call to Action, A Call for Change!
Mismanagement of Ozark National Scenic Riverways has degraded Missouri’s premier National Park. The cumulative effect of mismanagement has left natural resources impaired and altered visitor experiences up and down the 134 river miles of our country’s first National Park established to protect a wild river system.
This National Park was created in 1964 to save Missouri’s spring-fed Current River from being dammed, while protecting its wild and undeveloped character so that all generations can enjoy its clear, cool, free-flowing water. Today there is little evidence of law enforcement; illegal motorized access has dramatically disrupted the safety and enjoyment of gravel bar camping and picnicking; virtually uncontrolled commercial trail rides bring thousands of horses in to concentrated areas, adding pollution to the river’s water quality; and publicly paid for easements to protect the scenic river corridor have been mismanaged or ignored.
The quality of the Current River is directly linked to the economies of many small Ozark communities. The continued mismanagement threatens this important National Park and the long-term success of these economies. The park’s existing management plan has not been followed. National Park policies and the public law that established Missouri’s Ozark National Scenic Riverways have been violated. The National Park Service is responsible for bringing Ozark National Scenic Riverways up to basic standards. The Current River deserves first class management!
We continue to document damages along the river. The National Park Service is not doing their job and we must hold them accountable. Add your voice to many others, from the small communities along the river, to farmlands in the region, and all around the state -- speak out for America’s first national river and for Missouri’s finest outdoor resource. Contact your elected officials, ask them for help, tell them you expect more from the federal agency whom you’ve entrusted to take care of your river!