Sometime this summer, a new management plan will be rolled out for two of the Ozarks’ prime smallmouth streams, the Jacks Fork and the Current Rivers. They are part of the Ozarks National Scenic Riverways (ONSR) managed by the National Park Service (NPS).
The NPS’s preferred alternative of four options is “B,” which includes access restrictions. Among them would be a ban on motorboats for the upper portions of the rivers.
Rowdy behavior, illegal camping, and unauthorized trails, especially in recent years, contributed to consideration of reduced access.
But the proposal has been vigorously opposed by many in Missouri, including state politicians, especially after the NPS tried --- and failed --- to have the White River watershed declared a federal “Blueway.”
“The rivers zone themselves. There isn’t enough river flow in the upper reaches of the Jacks Fork and Current for big boats to get there,” said Jack Peters of Running River Canoe Rental. “From what I’ve seen, there is no conflict there.”
In a letter to the NPS, 23 state senators said the following:
“We support the ‘no-action alternative’ to the current operating system. The ONSR value to the region is unparalleled. Do not adopt a GMP (general management plan) that is contrary to our wishes, those of our constituents, and the other folks who depend on access to the Riverways and cannot operate with additional government regulations.
“In our opinion, the ONSR is already over-managed with burdensome federal regulations. The Riverways support a vibrant and growing tourism industry that is critical to our region and state.”
Additionally, some even called for the state to take over management.
“The creation and management of parks is clearly a responsibility that Missouri handles well. There is no reason to believe it would be any different with a state-managed Ozark Scenic Riverways. It's time for Missouri to begin efforts to reclaim this resource from the federal government,” said Lieutenant Gov. Peter Kinder.