The National Parks Service is reviewing three alternatives for a comprehensive parks plan in the Ozarks.
The last general management plan for the Ozark National Scenic Riverways was done in 1984 and public input forums are being held throughout the state to formulate a new plan. The end result with guide decisions at the park for the next 15 to 20 years.
Elisa Kunz with National Parks Service says three alternatives are being considered. The zones include land, water, developed, natural, resource-based recreation and primitive.
Kunz says many people are concerned about a possible change of allowable horsepower on the waterways. Others are looking at the zones from a horseback riders’ viewpoint and some want things to stay as they are.
"Some even want it to be changed back to how it was in 1964," she says.
Other concerns include too many tubing, canoeing, rafting, and boating on the river; too much lewd visitor behavior; pollution by people, vehicles, horses and motorboats; people are scaring wildlife and damaging habitat; invasive species of animals are moving in and spreading; some land uses and activities outside the park are damaging things inside the park, including water quality.
Kunz says the main planner is from Colorado, where National Parks have the same zone concept as well as the same challenges.
Seven zones are proposed for the park. That includes a Developed Zone, which would have buildings and visitor facilities like campgrounds and related services; Resource-based Recreation Zone; a Natural Zone; a Primitive Zone; a Mixed-Use Zone for motorized and non-motorized boating; a Season Mixed-Use Zone for non-motorized and lower horse-power motorized boating during the low-use season (non-motorized only during the rest of the year); and a Non-motorized Zone.
The parks service hosted forums around the state to get public input, which wrapped up in St. Louis Friday, June 26.
Public commentary can still be submitted online at nps.gov/ozar or by sending a letter to: Superintendent, Ozark National Scenic Riverways, P.O. Box 490, Van Buren, MO, 63965.