The National Parks Service is formulating a parks plan for the Ozarks and the public has spoken up. The hundreds of comments — some controversial — can now be viewed online.
The Parks Service says it will take all comments into consideration when proposing it’s general draft proposal for the Ozark National Scenic Riverways. It also says due to an overwhelming level of interest, it’s made those documents available for public review.
Spokeswoman Dena Matteson says one hot-button issue — especially with locals — was boat regulations.
Matteson says several aspects will be taken into consideration when choosing one of the three draft alternatives.
The draft proposal for the Ozark Riverways will steer the management of the park for the next 20 years or more, providing direction to future administrations.
Public comments on the preliminary alternative, which released last spring, Matteson says, ran from early summer through September of 2009; that’s where comments currently posted were taken from.
Matteson says within the comment, there didn’t seem like there was one alternative preferred, “but comments varied drastically between no changes to drastic changes. Some had not preferred plan but just wanted to give an opinion on what we are doing and what we should be doing.”
She says managers are reviewing all comments and are taking into consideration how they can be incorporated into creating a new draft alternative … one alternative that will go forward as the management plan.
At several of the public forums, locals turned out to speak against regulations on boat horsepower, saying they were using the most responsible, respectful motorized boats on the rivers, and that the proposed restrictions didn’t make sense.
“Boats on the rivers was a hot topic, some want no changes, some want lower horsepower, others want no motorized boats at all,” Matteson says.
The Parks Service says “due to the high level of interest in the Draft General Management Plan for Ozark National Scenic Riverways the National Park Service has made several documents available for public review.”
“The turnout at the five June 2009 open houses was very large and a high volume of written comments was submitted. Due to that volume, it has taken a while to read all of the comments, put them into the Planning, Environment, and Public Comment database, and prepare a summary for the public. Several documents have been developed that summarize the public comments received to date.”
To review the documents visit: http://parkplanning.nps.gov/ — select Ozark NSR from the dropdown menu, then “General Management Plan” from the list of current projects, and then “Document List.”
The Parks Service will be doing additional work in 2010 and 2011 to revise and refine the planning alternatives and develop the agency’s preferred alternative. It is also seeking funding to complete studies in the areas of social and natural science to support agency decisions.
The Ozark National Scenic Riverways preserves the free-flowing Current and Jacks Fork Rivers, the surrounding natural resources, and, the Parks Service says, “the unique cultural heritage of the Ozark people.”
For more information visit, www.nps.gov/ozar.