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Ozark National Riverways public hearing set for Thursday in Columbia

Wednesday, June 24, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 8:26 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 8, 2009

COLUMBIA – The future use of National Park Service land along the Current and Jacks Fork rivers in the Missouri Ozarks will be the subject of a public hearing scheduled for Thursday in Columbia.

The Park Service is to host the public hearing, one of five in Missouri, about its preliminary alternatives for managing the Ozark National Scenic Riverways for the next 15 to 20 years. The hearing is to be held from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Courtyard by Marriott Columbia,  3301 Lemone Industrial Blvd.

Options include leaving the park as it is and trying to recreate conditions that existed when the riverways were named outstanding national resource waters in 1964 by limiting motorboats and concentrating on floating and camping.

The quality of the rivers' environments has been a focus in the past. A 2003 Missourian article, for example, said an eight-mile stretch of the Jacks Fork River was included on Missouri’s list of impaired waters in 1998 as required by the Federal Clean Water Act. The U.S. Geological Survey had since been working on sorting out sources of pollution in the river for more than four years, and at least one more year was expected to be needed to finalize that study, said Jerri Davis, a hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey.

That same article described how a crush of summer visitors had been trashing the Current River, raising water-quality concerns.

Missourian reporter John Springli contributed to this report.


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