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Will Another Ozark Float Season Pass without Horsepower Enforcement?

More than 3,000 comments were submitted on a 2015 General Management Plan for the Current and Jacks Fork rivers. (kbh3rd/WikimediaCommons)
More than 3,000 comments were submitted on a 2015 General Management Plan for the Current and Jacks Fork rivers. (kbh3rd/WikimediaCommons)
April 1, 2020

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Peak float season starts today in Missouri, and there are concerns that another season will float by without the enforcement of horsepower limits on the Ozark National Scenic Riverways.

The General Management Plan for the Current and Jacks Fork rivers' corridor was completed more than five years ago, and included restrictions on motorboats of any horsepower on upper stretches of the rivers during peak float season. Jennifer Conner, who chairs the Missouri Sierra Club, said the limits were developed with input from local and state stakeholders.

"People want these horsepower limits on our rivers so that we can go, and we can enjoy and we can find that solace in nature," she said, "and also, so we can protect this wonderful river system for future generations."

The National Park Service manages the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, and has said the enforcement process is lengthy and is working to ensure the rules are clear and enforceable.

Richard Orr, public-private lands chairman for the Conservation Federation of Missouri, said the channels in the Current and Jacks Fork rivers' corridor are very narrow and shallow. He said the use of horsepower makes the river experience more dangerous and threatens wildlife.

"A jet boat would speed through a shallow area, and then I would come along moments later in a canoe and see dead turtles and fish float to the surface," he said. "And then, the wake of these boats eats away at the shoreline and the riverbanks, and creates a great deal of erosion."

Orr said the National Park Service received more than 3,000 public comments on the management plan and contended that the limits were created after an extensive and transparent process.

The management plan is online at nps.gov/ozar.

Disclosure: Sierra Club, Missouri Chapter contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Endangered Species & Wildlife, Energy Policy, Environment. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Mary Schuermann Kuhlman, Public News Service - MO