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Frank M. Hume Jr.

Current River Concerns

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Governor, Senator, Representative, Directors, Departments, Fly Shops and organizations  

I am writing to ensure that you have been advised of   destruction being created by the increasing presence of equestrian activity and ATV use within the upper Current River region which is a part of the Ozark National Scenic Riverway which is managed by the National Park Service. Current Ozark National Scenic Riverway (ONSR) regulations prohibit horseback riding within the Riverway except for four established trails located approximately 47 river miles downstream from Montauk State Park and prohibit ATV use off of established roads including trails and gravel bars.  Horseback trail riding has migrated steadily upstream and into the ONSR from the Eminence region and ATV use continues to increase almost certainly emanating from an off-road park for 4 wheel drive vehicles located near the Cedar Grove river access. The Dept. of Interior/National Scenic Riverways/National Park Service, has clearly failed to police these practices by enforcing the regulations and as a result, there is major stream bank erosion due to unlawful horse and ATV trails and  ecoli bacterial pollution. The sediment from stream bank erosion suffocates the eggs of both fish and the macroinvertebrates upon which they depend for food. These practices degrade stream bank stabilization widening and changing river hydraulics and stream depths. The Current River from Montauk State Park (mile 0) downstream to Cedar Grove access (mile 9.0) is promoted as a "Blue Ribbon" trout fishery and it has suffered greatly as a result of the illegal equestrian and ATV uses previously mentioned.     I have voiced my concerns regarding these clear violations for the regulations of the Ozark National Scenic Riverway to the Central Div. Offices of The Dept. of Interior in Omaha Nebraska, only to receive no response.  Although the ONSR is controlled by the Federal government, I do know that if any of these blatant violations were to be present in state-owned public areas in any other state the consequences would be quite severe. As an example of appropriate regulatory enforcement at the state level, I recently fished the Catch and Release area on the White River in Arkansas and was checked for both appropriate licensing and to make sure that I was using a barbless hook as required.     To correct this enforcement failure on the part of the National Park Service, it is my opinion that this section of the ONSR from Montauk State Park to Cedar Grove access should be reverted to, and regulations enforced by, the Missouri Department of Conservation which would result in this once world-class fishery being much better served. If that is not possible I recommend that a coalition of state, federal and concerned citizens, much like the "Friends of White River" be formed for the betterment of this area. The Missouri Department of Conservation is fortunate to have phenomenal employees in Dave Ingram, Jason Migget, John Ackerson, Tom Whelan and others who provide tireless support of the ONSR to the extent that they can, but who must feel that their hands are somewhat tied with the National Park Service, which is supposedly the primary overseer of the ONSR, failing to provide enforcement of the equestrian and ATV regulations.   Thank you for your attention to this email and to this most valuable resource.  

Sincerely,

Frank Hume, Dent Co. resident, Syndicate Fly Rod Rep. and avid flyfisherman

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I wasn't aware of the restrictions of equestrian activity above Cedar Grove. I often see groups of riders crossing the river at Parker Hollow access and see ATV tracks upstream from there. I find walking along the horse trails much more difficult than along the ATV tracks. However, both are getting deeper and much worse over the years.

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37 minutes ago, snagged in outlet 3 said:

Please explain.

There is a great irony in the op railing against rule breakers when he himself refuses to get the permit to guide the upper Current.

 

37 minutes ago, snagged in outlet 3 said:

Please explain.

 

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When its dry like this, that's when I notice the horse trails the most- pounded into powder.  To me, it's pretty obvious who's running trail rides on the upper Current. 

 

But horses and ATVs are easy enough problems to solve (provided there's a will to do so) that transferring ownership seems a pretty extreme response.  I'm not sure MDC has an interest in managing the upper Current, that they'd be able to allocate more resources to protection than NPS, or that they'd be better equipped to tackle these problems- which occur on conservation areas, too.  Any agency managing ONSR is going to have exactly the same problems.   It'd be a political nightmare and I'm not even sure how it would work- given how much of the upper river isn't directly owned by the Feds, but rather managed through easements.  If those agreements had to be re-negotiated to transfer ONSR between federal and state agencies....I could foresee it doing far more harm than good. 

 

IMO the solution isn't switching owners, it's making sure ONSR personnel fulfill their legal obligation to protect and maintain the quality of the park.  A citizen nonprofit- recreational users, businesses, etc- like what they've created on the NFOW and the James around Springfield- may help.  Problem is, there's such animosity between the folks who use ONSR and the folks who live around it that I don't think they'll be coming together anytime soon.  That's really the biggest problem with ONSR- the circular firing squad makes it easy to maintain the status quo. 

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4 hours ago, awhuber said:

You didnt mention guides operating outside of the rules. Does this mean you are going to get legal now?

awhuber, what rules might those be?

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The horse people, ATV users, and the 4x4 enthusiasts can be a nuisance at times but I would not be in favor of turning it over to the whims of the Missouri Legislature. Be careful what you wish for. Call  573-323-4236, hit 0 then ask for the Chief Ranger if you want to report a non emergency violation in the park..

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I like the trails, they are like little shortcuts to get me away from the crowds.  If they could train them not to use the trails for pooping, it would be even better.

They tend to be better walking than the trails made by the herds of fishermen that plow down each side of the banks and drop all kinds of trash along the way.

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