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National Park Service hosts meeting to discuss Ozark riverways

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

COLUMBIA — Scott Rubinstein of Columbia has frequented the Current River for 20 years and wants the riverway to be left alone with no signs of development.

“I love to go fishing in silence. When you are floating in a canoe, all you can hear is the water and the wildlife. I don’t know why anyone would want to change that,” Rubinstein said.

Park management alternatives

Non-action alternative: The park will run as it is now. The park offers many activities for visitors including canoeing, kayaking, tubing, horseback riding and the use of johnboats and all-terrain vehicles.

Alternative A: The park will return to more primitive recreation that focuses on traditional, non-motorized recreation.

Alternative B: The popular activities like floating, motor boating and horseback riding will be balanced with the creation of some new trails and small learning centers.

Alternative C:
More public access to outdoor recreation will be created. Visitors would experience a more diversified use of the park.

For more information on these alternatives, go to parkplanning.nps.gov.


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Rubinstein attended a public forum Thursday night held by the National Park Service to discuss four possible options for the future of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways.

The event attracted 127 people. The Park Service has already held three similar meetings in different locations, with one still to come.

Dale Counts, assistant commissioner for Shannon County, supported taking no action at Thursday's meeting. He said he has concerns for the economic well-being of the area.

“If you limit the use of canoes, boats and horses, that’s a source of income in our county,” Counts said.

Like many of the members at the meeting, the Osage Group Sierra Club strongly supports Alternative A, the more primitive approach to managing the park.

“This is a unique resource, a crown jewel of natural areas in Missouri, and it is being degraded,” said Hank Ottinger, Sierra Club political chair.

Sarah Pennington of Columbia is also a supporter of Alternative A and believes that measures should be taken to make the area more family friendly; she's been to other parks where prohibiting alcohol and regulating river traffic enhanced her experience.

“Public concerns run the gamut," said Eliza Kunz, public information officer for the National Park Service. “We will have to find a balance and it’s that balance that will be hard."


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