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Input Needed on Roads, Trails within Ozark National Scenic Riverways

The National Park Service wants to make sure there is a safe space for all who enjoy the Ozark National Scenic Riverways. Courtesy Missouri Sierra Club
The National Park Service wants to make sure there is a safe space for all who enjoy the Ozark National Scenic Riverways. Courtesy Missouri Sierra Club
November 19, 2015

VAN BUREN, Mo. – With hiking, biking, horseback riding and canoeing, the Ozark National Scenic Riverways is considered one of the state's great treasures, and right now Missourians have the chance to shape and protect the national park's future.

The National Park Service wants to put together a roads and trails management plan, which would designate what sorts of activities are allowed and where.

Caroline Pufalt, conservation chair of the Missouri Chapter of the Sierra Club, says right now, things have become rather chaotic in parts of the park, putting the natural resources and those who use them at risk.

"People have ridden their horses, or hiked, or maybe even used ATVs and opened up a trail or a road where there really shouldn't be one, and it might be damaging to a glade area or it might cause a lot of erosion into the river," she explains.

Pufalt says she believes there's a way for everyone to enjoy the park safely, but only if the different groups that use it speak out during the development of the plan.

The National Park Service is accepting public comment on the issue through next Wednesday on its website.

In addition to the environmental issues, Pufalt says there are very real economic benefits to making sure the park is managed in such a way that people can enjoy it for generations to come.

"A majority of the visitors come from over 50 miles away, so it's a draw for people from across Missouri and also out of state," she points out.

The Ozark National Scenic Riverways includes more than 80,000 acres of land and water, including portions of the Current and Jacks Fork rivers.

This is the first step in the development of a comprehensive management plan, which the National Park Service hopes to complete by spring of 2018.


Mona Shand, Public News Service - MO