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Rivers at Risk in MO Due to "Overuse"

May 19, 2011

ST. LOUIS - The Current and Jacks Fork rivers, two of America's clearest spring-fed streams which make up the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, are endangered because of overuse and poor management of the national park, according to a conservation group's report.

The report, as part of an annual list of endangered rivers issued by the group American Rivers, specifically cites heavy traffic on horse trails and recreational-vehicle use which can destroy vegetation and lead to erosion and pollution at the southern Missouri park.

Kally Higgins with Friends of Ozark Riverways says it's time for the Obama administration to put its words into action while it promotes the America's Great Outdoors Initiative to boost conservation and recreation nationwide.

"We want the top officials to get involved, to shine a giant light on the management, make sure that they're holding up the standard of excellence."

With more than 1 million visitors each year to the national park, Higgins says, those fighting to protect the river understand its economic impact to the area.

"We aren't saying no horses, we aren't saying that you shouldn't be able to get to the river. We're simply saying that the Park Service knows how to manage those things, and they're not doing it."

The National Park Service has the opportunity to make improvements while it's preparing its General Management Plan later this year, Higgins says. The plan is the blueprint on how the rivers should be used for the next 20 years.

The American Rivers report is online at

Heather Claybrook, Public News Service - MO