Draft Ozark National Scenic Riverways Plan Draws Charges NPS Is Trying To Limit Access

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The Current (pictured) and Jacks Fork rivers that course through Ozark National Scenic Riverways in Missouri lure paddlers. Marty Koch photo.

A pitched battle is under way over the future of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, one that goes to the heart of whether national parks are to be managed for the country's best interests, or for local interests.

At issue is the path the National Park Service is trying to chart for long-term management of the unit that was the very first in the nation designed specifically to protect a river system.

Proponents say the structure of the preferred alternative in the draft General Management Plan is long overdue and necessary to prevent further degradation of the 134 miles of the Jacks Fork and Current rivers that course through the rumpled, cave-studded, spring-gushing countryside of southern Missouri's Ozark Mountains.

Opponents, who include a freshman congressman from Missouri's 8th District, counter that the approach would convert "the vast majority of the park to a natural area where evidence of human use is minimal." From his perspective, U.S. Rep. Jason Smith maintains the park's preferred alternative would be devastating to area economies and continue what he sees as efforts by the Park Service to limit access to the forests and rivers within the National Riverways.

As with many of these debates in the National Park System, trying to filter the various viewpoints and rhetoric can be challenging. The debate at Ozark National Scenic Riverways is not unlike those at Cape Hatteras National Seashore in North Carolina, where the Park Service under court order implemented access restrictions to protect threatened shorebirds and endangered sea turtles, or at Point Reyes National Seashore in California, where the agency is mired in a legal battle over a commercial oyster operation in part of the seashore designated as official wilderness.

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ATV damage can be found in many areas of the national riverways. Friends of Ozark Riverways photo.

National Park Service management in general has been pilloried by some in the wake of the 16-day closure in October of the National Park System due to Congress's inability to agree on funding for the federal government, perhaps creating an atmosphere among some to figuratively jump on the agency.

Rep. Smith portrays his attack on the agency over the Ozark National Scenic Riverways' draft general management plan as one over the economic and recreational well-being of his constituents. And in some aspects he appears to be forging a divide between Missouri residents who long have turned to the two rivers for recreation and livelihoods, and all Americans who hold a stake in how the National Park System is managed.

"Generations of Missourians in our congressional district have enjoyed the Jacks Fork and Current Rivers. The rivers are also the engine that drives numerous small businesses. When bureaucrats in Washington try to restrict land and river usage for families and businesses, our district suffers," the congressman, born nearly a quarter century after the national riverways was authorized, wrote in a weekly letter to constituents in mid-November.

He also took to the floor of the House of Representatives to voice his opposition to the draft GMP.

When the idea for an Ozark Rivers National Monument was discussed in 1960, the picture painted was one of a wild and ancient mountain range with a human history 10,000 years old and a unique geology, one plumbed by hundreds of springs that daily gush hundreds of millions of gallons of clean, cold water into the rivers. Red wolves once roamed here, while pileated woodpeckers flit about the hardwood forests.

Here would be an area preserved for use of people—an opportunity to float the Current or the Jacks Fork or the Eleven Point, to watch the osprey at work, to try camping on a gravel bar, to test the boater's or fisherman's skill, to watch the Ozarks renowned fall colors pass by, or perhaps even just to loaf. Hiking along the riverbank or to some remote cave, sink, or site where man of yesterday lived; wandering through little known Powder Mill Cave or into spectacular Jam Up Cave; climbing down a shaded trail to magnificent Greer Spring—all of these and many other opportunities would be available to the visitor. A carefully developed interpretive program would add to his enjoyment and understanding of the area.

Protecting these rivers seemed a central driver behind the creation of the National Riverways. The enacting legislation opens by stating that, "for the purpose of conserving and interpreting unique scenic and other natural values and objects of historic interest, including preservation of portions of the Current River and Jacks Fork River in Missouri as free-flowing streams, preservation of springs and caves, and management of wildlife, and provisions for use and enjoyment..."

But over the years park officials have grappled with that mandate. Rowdy boaters, drunken behavior, camping illegally on gravel bars, and the preponderance of unauthorized trails woven into the parkscape -- 65 miles of unauthorized horse trails, for example -- have challenged the staff. Indeed, a root of the uproar over the draft management plan that is open for public comment through January 8 can be traced to how the Park Service has managed, or in some views mismanaged, the National Riverways that was authorized in 1964 and officially dedicated in 1972.

"Frankly, enforcement has been the biggest problem over the past 30 years," said Lynn McClure, who as director of the National Parks Conservation Association's Midwest Office is studying the draft GMP and preparing comments on it. “It’s not an easy park to patrol. No. 1, it’s got a lot of linear miles to it on two sides of a river. You multiply that park boundary one way by two. It’s not easy to patrol.

"What’s happened I think over the last 30 years, the norm has become something that really wasn’t allowed at the park, in terms of what size of a boat you’re supposed to run on the river, in terms of pulling vehicles, cars, trucks, whatever into the middle of the river, onto the gravel bars and just parking," Ms. McClure said last week while discussing the draft document. "There are gravel bars where vehicle use or truck use is allowed, but it’s just become more common to just pull the truck out into the river."

The physical state of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways was detailed on the Traveler two years ago after it was named to American River's list of Most Endangered Rivers (a listing park officials took strong exception to). The portrait crafted by Susan Flader, who long taught in the University of Missouri-Columbia History Department and long followed and enjoyed the National Riverways, was of a unit of the National Park System taken over by locals, where all-terrain-vehicle traffic and no-holds horse use were exacting a toll on the natural resources both in terms of physical degradation as well as elevated E. coli levels in the river, according to Friends of Ozark Riverways.

"... the camping areas developed by NPS are all set back and screened from view from the river, while in the unofficial primitive sites anything goes, including slashing and mowing vegetation and reshaping banks to open the view and improve access to the river," Ms. Flader wrote at the time. "Moreover, the roads to them are not shown on any ONSR maps for general visitor use, meaning they are available only to those—mostly local residents—who have heavy duty vehicles or all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and can find their own way there on a maze of unmarked, often deeply rutted roads. Local Ozark families have been visiting the river for generations, and they want to be in their own spot, right on the river, not in a developed campground with others."

None of this surfaces in Rep. Smith's condemnation of the Park Service planning efforts. His communications director, Justin Gibbs, told the Traveler on Monday that the congressman doesn't believe there's a need for more regulations in the National Riverways.

"The park is already over-managed, and we wouldn’t want to see any more restriction put on usages of any areas of the park," Mr. Gibbs said Monday during a phone call. “Our argument has always been that we can strike a balance here. We don’t have to shut the parks down in a way that’s going to make them accessible only to environmentalists. The parks should be accessible and they should be open. It’s public land.”

He pointed to the Park Service's proposal to seek creation of a 3,430-acre Big Spring Wilderness Area as one more step towards restricting access to the National Riverway.

When asked about problems with erosion caused by ATV travel and widespread equestrian use, as well as E. coli problems linked to horses, the congressman's spokesman said, "The folks who are using the parks are some of the best stewards of the land that you can imagine. This is their home. They want to do nothing but preserve and take care of it for their kids and their grandkids, and it’s just not right that their access should be limited.”

Still, Congressman Smith's comments have been described as carrying a measure of hyperbole as well as being off-mark.

One area resident, in a letter to the weekly Current Wave newspaper of Eminence, Missouri, questioned the congressman's facts, saying Rep. Smith was wrong in his claim that the national riverway was created "with the goal of preserving access to the Rivers."

"I don't recall that that was ever a goal," wrote Alan Banks. "There was never a problem with access to the rivers. The ONSR was created with a dual purpose, to preserve the natural beauty of the area and to provide recreational opportunities. Those purposes are often in opposition and it has been a continual conflict for managing the park. Should the park be a wilderness experience where people can enjoy unspoiled nature with minimal modern intrusions, or should it be an amusement park with unlimited numbers of canoes, high powered boats, ATVs, and horseback riders? I believe the Park Service has tried to strike a balance.

"I think most people would agree that the thing we love about the area and what attracts most visitors (on which local businesses depend), is its natural beauty. Would you rather come around the bend in the river and see a deer taking a drink or would you rather see someone's pickup backed out into the river with the radio blaring so everyone within sight can hear it? Would you rather see a heron fishing in shallow water next to a gravel bar or see tents and cars on what you expected to be an isolated area? The natural beauty is what we have to enjoy and what we have to sell to visitors and we need to be careful not to destroy that."

But in a countering letter, Jerry King, president of Voice of the Ozarks, voiced rhetoric similar to the one that has resounded throughout Cape Hatteras these past six+ years as the national seashore tried to come to terms with off-road vehicle use in habitat used by piping plovers, a threatened species, and five species of sea turtles, some of which are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

"The National Park Service, at the promoting of the Sierra Club and other environmental groups, wishes to turn a Scenic Easement into an Environmental Park inaccessible to everyone but environmentalists!" Mr. King wrote.

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The Park Service wants to gain better control over horse crossings in the rivers. Friends of Ozark Riverways photo.

One thing about the Park Service's preferred alternative that draws criticism is the proposal to close and restore 65 miles "of undesignated horse trails and unauthorized stream crossings." Yet at the same time the park proposes to add roughly 25-35 miles of designated trails to the current horse trail system that runs about 23 miles, and create a 25-site horse campground along the Jacks Fork River.

In the process of addressing equestrian use in the riverways, the park would also prepare a "recreational horse use and trail management plan," something that's been missing. Park staff say this approach would better control erosion on river banks, soil compaction elsewhere, and sediment runoff.

The preferred alternative does state the Park Service's intention to gain control over motorized watercraft on the rivers, in part by increasing the percentage of river corridor open only to non-motorized watercraft (ie., canoes or kayaks). And the proposal aims to better manage camping on gravel bars by restricting to designated campsites where visitors could drive their vehicles.

The preferred alternative also would create "river management zoning," under which efforts to better manage motorized and non-motorized river use would be instituted. Under the plan, 34 percent of the Current and Jacks Fork rivers would be restricted to non-motorized craft, 14 percent would be open to motorized and non-motorized during the high season that falls between March 15 and Labor Day, and 52 percent would be open to both motorized and non-motorized traffic year-round.

"Establishment of river management zones that provide for nonmotorized stretches and stretches with increased management of horsepower and seasonal use would help reduce and control wake disturbances on riverbanks and associated erosion and sedimentation along several stretches of the rivers. However, since much of the proposed nonmotorized zones currently receive low levels of motorized use, the potential reductions in wake erosion in these areas would likely be minimal," park staff noted in the draft document.

As for other recreation, the Park Service wants to increase the amount of hiking trail access, in part by converting roughly 10 miles of roads in existing primitive zones to hiking trails. "One additional mile of accessible trails would be opened. Mountain biking would be a new, allowable trail use, but only on designated trails. Mountain biking would not be allowed in primitive zones," the plan adds.

Ms. Flader was hopeful the agency -- both in Washington, D.C., and locally -- would summon the backbone to adopt and enforce its preferred alternative.

“I think that they’ve made a real effort to grapple with the problems down there. I think that this is truly -- and this is my position -- has been a neglected park, where Park Service officials beyond those at the Riverways knew there were problems but just didn’t want to have to deal with it," she said Monday. "And now they have decided that they must deal with it. The Riverways is being watched by people in the Midwest Regional office, and in the Washington office. And they have, I am quite sure, have been looking carefully at this plan to see that it adheres to National Park Service standards. I think it’s gone back repeatedly for retooling of various things.”

A phone call to Gene Maggard, who owns the biggest canoe outfitting service operating in the Riverways, Akers Ferry Canoe Rental, was not immediately returned. But Ms. Flader, who has spoken with him repeatedly, thought he, too, was in favor of better management of the rivers.

"One of the things that is happening to those canoe outfitters, these concessionaires, is that there’s competition against them by other outftters who are not licensed, who are just dumping people into the river at other places, roads somewhere where it crosses the river," she said. "It makes it very difficult to distribute the use when that’s happening."

Furthermore, said Ms. Flader, “The easiest thing to complain about is the boarish, rowdy behavior of certain user groups. And that is the drunkenness and what not. The Park Service has actually done a good job of dealing with that in the last few years.

"...The canoe people don’t like it because their clients are suffering from it. Drunken guys standing out in the rapids and literally trying to tip canoes over as they come through, for fun."

Going forward, it will be interesting to see the tenor of comments received on this plan, and how the Park Service reacts. Should the riverways be a no-holds-barred recreation area, rife with miles of social trails, or one with regulations aimed at minimizing impacts with a goal of a better recreational experience? You can find the draft GMP, and comment on it, at this site.

Comments

$$$$$$, $$$$$$$$ $ $$$$$ $$ $$$$$ $$ $$$$$$.

$$$$ $$$$$$$$ $$$$$ $$ $ $$$$$$$ $$$$$$$ -- $$$$$$ $$$$ $$ $$$$$$$?

As is typically the case (see Hatteras) everyone agrees there should be "balance", the problem is defining where the balance point lies. My inclination is to lean toward the opinion of the locals rather than people who never have nor never will visit the area whether for recreation or solitude. And yes, money may indeed play a role - but that's not a bad thing. Is it not better that a river guide be employed then having him collect good stamps?

If the stamps he collects are good enough, he might be rich. I understand some old postage stamps are very valuable. The trick is finding the really GOOD ones.

But I don't see what collecting good stamps has to do with finding a job as a river guide.

"Obama is the philatelist President."--Newt Gingrich

Take that, Lee. Now, instead of entertaining ridiculous false choices confronting river guides, let's hear/talk about the management plan of the Ozark NSR.

ec - from what I can infer from the article, this plan would not reduce employment opportunities for river guides - and may in fact improve them, if the "outsiders" who hire such guides have a more positive experience on the river, perhaps make a return visit and spread the word about a great trip to other potential customers.

It sounds like at least part of the controversy is about limiting some of the current practice of "let's rev up the ol' ATV or 4WD and make our own road to get to the river" - and asking people to use planned access points instead. One of the photos in the story illustrates the problem with that practice. My experience with similar places like the Buffalo River is that river guides and canoe rental companies rely on established and maintained access points - not muddy ruts through the woods - to serve their customers.

I doubt the practice of driving an ATV or 4WD out into the river to party on gravel bars does anything to improve the quality of the experience - or the river - for the majority of visitors. Will some of the locals who have been used to doing so object? Certainly, but the fact that they've been tearing up the landscape to create their own "pesonal" access to the river doesn't mean it's a good idea - or a "right."


from what I can infer from the article, this plan would not reduce employment opportunities for river guides - and may in fact improve them,


That certainly isn't the impression given by the congressman, or for that matter Lee's $$$$$$. And of course my reference to "river guides" is a euphemism for all who's employment is dependent on park activities.


from what I can infer from the article, this plan would not reduce employment opportunities for river guides - and may in fact improve them,


That certainly isn't the impression given by the congressman:

"When bureaucrats in Washington try to restrict land and river usage for families and businesses, our district suffers"

or for that matter Lee's $$$$$$.

And of course my reference to "river guides" is a euphemism for all who's employment is dependent on park activities.

And no I don't think people should make their own roads to the rivers and I don't see anything that suggests the congressman thinks so either.

Sorry, Justin. Just responding to an earlier comment about stamp collecting.

No need to apologize, Lee. My post was piggybacking on your satire.

To get serious -- allowing the "locals" to manage lands isn't always the best idea. Just look at the overgrazing that was destroying rangelands throughout the west before the big, bad BLM began managing.

Or the fouled waterways that used to catch fire before that evil Clean Water Act came along. Or the air that couldn't be breathed until the Clean Air Act let us all heave a sigh of relief.

Or the countless petroglyphs with bullet holes. The Anasazi ruins torn apart by local citizens seeking treasures to sell. Those ATV tracks scaring the lands and eroding hillsides.

The Utah scout "leaders" who pushed a hoodoo over at Goblin Valley State Park. Or the Utah scout troop that worked hard to spend a day cleaning graffiti from rocks and hundreds of nails from pallets illegally burned in campfires in an area that was re-opened to ORV traffic a year ago after having been closed and cleaned up with a few thousand tax dollars by BLM crews. This troop's leaders said it was a chance to try to cleanse the name of scouts after the toppled goblin.

Need I go on?

If we are going to preserve something for those future generations, don't we need to protect if from those who would destroy it now? And if that means ticking off a few of the locals, all I can say is "Tough luck, folks."

Jim,

Did I read somewhere (probably the Traveler) that E coli is also an issue of concern for the Buffalo River?


If we are going to preserve something for those future generations, don't we need to protect if from those who would destroy it now?


Yes, but we don't necessarily need the feds to provide those protections. You cite destruction that occurred decades ago when neither feds or locals saw the need to protect. Please show me a local authority that would currently allow the destruction of rangelands, the burning of rivers or bullet holes in Petroglyphs.

I didn't say anything about local authorities. I'm talking about local locals. The rednecks and rubes whose guns and tires are bigger than their brains.


I didn't say anything about local authorities. I'm talking about local locals. The rednecks and rubes whose guns and tires are bigger than their brains.


And I said nothing about "local locals" or your biggoted references.

Traveler, very interesting post. I wish the management team at the Riverway success in their efforts. The locals are going to see some changes they will not like, but the general overall park experience will be upgraded, and sensitive ecological communities will have a respite , at least in some areas, from the crush of the heavy footprints of ORVs, motorized watercraft, etc. Thank you for posting.

justinh:

re: E. coli concerns for the Buffalo River (a park similar in some ways to Ozark Riverways), you may be remembering a story in the Traveler this past summer about concerns for possible water quality issues from a large, "industrial-scale" hog farm upstream from the river.

As best I can tell, water quality for the Buffalo is still generally very good. This article includes a summary of a problem in one area back in 2010, and on-going testing for E. coli on that river.

One of the hot button topics for the proposed plan at Ozark Riverways involves horseback use. At present, there seem to be few limits on horse use along, across and in the river itself. That has led to complaints about boaters finding manure piles on gravel bars and the shoreline, and claims that the horse use (along with unrestricted camping along the river) is causing problems with water contamination. Horse users and those favoring unrestricted camping place the blame elsewhere. As usual, it's a complicated issue.

This link provides a lot of information in addition to the draft plan, including summaries of comments at public hearings for the plan.


Please show me a local authority that would currently allow the destruction of rangelands, the burning of rivers or bullet holes in Petroglyphs.


It is not that local authority allows the distruction, it is that local residents feel that they are entitled to do what they choose including the distruction of public land. At some point, because the land is publicly owned (and federally controlled) the feds, as the local authority, must step in.

Locals decide to grow pot on Fed land, squatters, squatters growing pot

Local vandals, more vandals, and more vandals; wait - more vandals! and a few more... (I give up - there are too many.)

locals dumping trash, more locals, more dumping, more trash, (too many of these, too.)

locals on atvs, locals are angry at other locals on atvs, more locals on atvs, even more entitlement, and some more entitlement (and again, too many to continue but I hope you get my point.)

locals poaching animals, locals poaching plants, locals poaching fossils, etc.

locals cutting trails, illegal tree cutting, even illegal christmas trees, even giant trees, locals want bike trails,

It is not that "Local Authorities" allow the distruction, it is that people believe they are entitled to do what they want, when and where they want. Eventually, someone has to step in to stop it; the land is owned by everyone, not just some of the people whom happen to live in proximity.

re: the comment from Lee about "The rednecks and rubes whose guns and tires are bigger than their brains" and ecbuck's response about his "biggoted references."

I was born in and have spent most of my life in the South, some of it in very rural areas that many would consider "backward," so I'm somewhat sensitive to stereotypes of this region. That said, there is a certain percentage of people in all parts of the country whose behavior shows no respect for other people or the land. In the case of the Ozarks, it's not biggoted to describe this group as Lee did in his quote. In fact, he pretty well nailed it.

I've been working my way through the various documents on the Ozark Riverways GMP website, and it's clear that both "outsiders" and some of the "locals" have major concerns about out-of-control behavior by the group Lee describes. Even some of the locals who don't want more controls on things like boat motor size and ATV and horse use are calling for more rangers and stricter law enforcement on the river to deal with what I'll sum up as drunks, drugs and deviant behavior.

The park will never have enough rangers to solve this problem via enforcement alone; there are just too many miles of river and shoreline. One approach (as suggested by this plan) for dealing with the problem of rowdy behavior is reducing uncontrolled vehicle access to the river, because the types of "rednecks and rubes" who are the troublemakers are usually too lazy to carry their cases of beer very far on foot. Yes, making those restrictions stick will also require manpower—and time—but the park needs to start somewhere to get this situation under control, and this is a reasonable step.

Once the parks begins to get a handle on this problem, the park experience will be greatly improved for both "outsiders" and the "locals" who want to be able to enjoy the river with their families - a request made by both groups at public meetings for this plan.

It is not that "Local Authorities" allow the distruction, it is that people believe they are entitled to do what they want, when and where they want. Eventually, someone has to step in to stop it; the land is owned by everyone, not just some of the people whom happen to live in proximity.

Well said, dahkota, and thanks for the examples you offered.


it is that people believe they are entitled to do what they want, when and where they want.


Yes SOME people do that. But that bears no relevance to whether local authorities or the feds have the best understanding on how to manage the land. In my opinion, those that live and work in and near the areas in question are more qualified and have a bigger stake in managing the land properly. Their voices should recieve more (not absolute but more) weight than those that have no connection to property involved.


In the case of the Ozarks, it's not biggoted to describe this group as Lee did in his quote. In fact, he pretty well nailed it.


Sorry Mtn, to disparage "rednecks", gun owners and people with large tires as a group is biggoted.

Thanks, Jim. Two National River(way)s I hope to get to one of these days.

ec:

It was pretty clear to me that Lee was not referring to "rednecks, gun owners and people with large tires" in general, but rather to the subset of that group described in more detail in my comment as the "drunks, drugs and deviant behavior" crowd – those who are causing so much trouble along the river.

It sounds like you've had the good fortune to escape many personal encounters with that crowd. When that group of hooligans and their misbehavior is being discussed, I have no problem with either scorn or disparaging remarks ... and that 's not the same as bigotry, at least according to the Cambridge dictionary definition. If you disagree in this case, feel free to consider me guilty.

Mtn - There are jerks of every ilk, gun owners, ATV drivers and environmentalist. I have no problem criticizing (and prosecuting) them individually. Lee's comments were far broader than that and consistent with his general disdain for gun owners, conservatives or anyone else that does not buy hook, line and sinker his philosophy. Any sentence that starts "The rednecks...." is biggoted.


In my opinion, those that live and work in and near the areas in question are more qualified and have a bigger stake in managing the land properly. Their voices should recieve more (not absolute but more) weight than those that have no connection to property involved.


And they do, as evidenced by the two month comment period, (documents and comment access located here), and the three local open houses scheduled in December and the two wilderness hearings scheduled.


as evidenced by the two month comment period, (documents and comment access located here), and the three local open houses scheduled in December and the two wilderness hearings scheduled.


That "evidences" they are heard, it doesn't show they are given more weight. The fact the local congressmen's and advocacies group comments were dismissed as "rhetoric" in fact suggests just the opposite.

ec - the description of some local comments as "rhetotic" comes from the author of the above story - not from the NPS or other decision-makers. And no, I don't see any evidence that local comments are given more weight in this planning process, and for public lands managed by a national agency, that's as it shoud be. I acknowledge that you disagre with that concept.

In terms of public input, this planning process has been going on since at least the summer of 2006. During that time, public meetings have been held in at least three locations in the vicinity of the park (Van Buren, Eminence and Salem, MO) as well as in St. Louis and Columbia; three more are scheduled in early January.

A map at this link depicts the locations from which comments were received at a point in late 2009. It indicates a lot of interest in this process in both the "local" area and a much wider area.

As is the case in any such plan, few individuals or groups will be completely satisfied with the final outcome. I don't think, however, that anyone can reasonably complain that the process has been rushed, or failed to offer plenty of opportunities for local voices to be heard.

Thank you, Dahkota, for a well researched post. ec, let's see some solid documentation that proves beyond doubt that locals provide better stewardship of lands and resources. As for trying to claim that local comments have been somehow overridden by those from people who "have never visited and never will," Jim's map pretty well dispells that myth.

"Biggoted" was a new word to me, so I checked its derivation. Turns out it refers to people of great wealth who "Got it Big." Interesting . . . . but seems like a rather awkward way of saying it.

ec, for what it's worth, the congressman's staff told me they don't want the 65 miles of unauthorized trails removed...


c, let's see some solid documentation that proves beyond doubt that locals provide better stewardship of lands and resources


I could ask the same of you about federal stewardhip. Of course neither of us could provide proof " beyond a doubt" because we wouldn't even agree on what constitutes "better stewardship".

However, common sense indicates that locals (in general) are going to have more knowledge and more sensitivity than those from far away. The fact Arkansas runs a balanced budget versus the massive deficit spending of the Feds also speaks volumes about "better stewardship".

"However, common sense indicates that locals (in general) are going to have more knowledge and more sensitivity than those from far away."

Dunno if that is really true or not. After all, how many times have we all heard someone say, "Gosh, I simply did not appreciate _____________ until it was gone."


The fact Arkansas runs a balanced budget versus the massive deficit spending of the Feds also speaks volumes about "better stewardship".


Hmmmm. More than 30% of the money in Arkansas's state budget comes from the federal government.

Maybe if the federal government stopped helping states like Arkanasa be "better stewards," the Federal government wouldn't have an unbalanced budget. Additionally, Arkansas's debt is pretty huge - not something to brag about in a case such as this.

Ozark National Scenic Riverways is in Missouri, not Arkansas. In 2011, 44% of Missouri's state budget revenue came from the federal government.

http://taxfoundation.org/blog/monday-map-federal-aid-state-budgets


"Gosh, I simply did not appreciate _____________ until it was gone."


And you don't hear that from those that are far away - because they never knew it was gone.


Hmmmm. More than 30% of the money in Arkansas's state budget comes from the federal government.


And where does that federal money come from - the states of course. All states get a major portion of their budgets from the feds. The lowest is Alaska at 24%. Arkansas is in the middle of the batch.

This state/federal money thing is turning into a snake-swallowing-tail, chicken or egg circular thing which, conveniently stops only where the true believers decide it stops.


All states get a major portion of their budgets from the feds. The lowest is Alaska at 24%. Arkansas is in the middle of the batch.


Yes, but Arkansas (and Missouri) receive a lot more from the Federal Government than they give. So, if the state sent no money to the Fed and received no money from the feds, they would be in a great load of trouble.

Dahkota I think you are confusing what is spent in the state with what is given to the state to support their own budget. Perhaps you would like to provide your source.

ec, will you provide your source that told you that Ozark National Scenic Riverways has been moved from Missouri to Arkansas?

Interesting discussion, thank you Sara for the informative post. The issue of locals having more say in the NPS areas is thought provoking. In my own experience in dealing with gateway communities in Grand Canyon, Yellowstone and Yosemite is that they have a huge say already, not only in the public outreach done by the NPS, but many of the employees are locals themselves. Further, the vast majority of NPS folks that transfer to the many different NPS areas are community oriented and participate in the local service organizations, chamber of commerce meetings, etc. There is also much interaction with the local, state and federal officials as well as their staff people.

Locals have much knowledge of the area involved, but in many cases it is somewhat parochial in nature or focused on the economic benefits of the area, not that this is totally bad. Fortunately, these areas are National in scope, the views of citizens from all over the US are considered as well. Many of these "outsider" views are extremely well informed and reflect all types of citizen groups, from environmental organizations, scientific and research entities, good government groups etc. I do not think the local residents should have any more say than anyone else, and currently they have more than their share. These areas are not going to be turned over to states, and I for one, am delighted that is the case.


ec, will you provide your source that told you that Ozark National Scenic Riverways has been moved from Missouri to Arkansas?


If you provide the source of where I said that was the case? By the way, Missouri has a balanced budget as well - as do the vast majority of states.


I do not think the local residents should have any more say than anyone else, and currently they have more than their share. These areas are not going to be turned over to states, and I for one, am delighted that is the case.


I think they should have more say and currently don't have enough. And if I were you, I wouldn't be so confident that they won't get control of at least some federal properties.

"The fact Arkansas runs a balanced budget versus the massive deficit spending of the Feds also speaks volumes about "better stewardship"."

"The fact Arkansas runs a balanced budget versus the massive deficit spending of the Feds also speaks volumes about "better stewardship"."

Hmmm - don't see anything about the Ozark National Scenic Riverways anyware in that sentence. Nor do I see you address that Missouri too has a balanced budget.

Perhaps you need to go talk to your high school English teacher about contextual writing skills.

And may we see some documentation that Missouri and Arkansas have balanced budgets -- without Federal aid?


without Federal aid?


Lee - the fed doesn't have money on their own to give away. They take money from the people in the states and then give (some of) it back. It is the Federal government that is on aid.

Total payments Missouri to the Feds $48.4 billion in 2012.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_tax_revenue_by_state

Total Fed contribution to Missouri budget 2012 $7.4 billion.

http://archive.oa.mo.gov/bp/pdffiles/2012presspacket.pdf

So tell me again how Missouri has federal "aid"?

I normally try to stay out the political aspects of these conversations as they bore me but really better stewards because they don't deficit spend. Can we stop with the troll like comments and just stick to things you know something about. Some folks consistently make specious arguments just trying to get a rise from people to discuss their pet govt theories.


but really better stewards because they don't deficit spend.


Yep - I think that is a very valid measure. Do you think chronic deficit spending shows greater responsibility?

right you think it is a valid measure, no real evidence of that but you think so it must be. I repeat the specious argument. I've also noticed you rarely actually backup your point with real data, you do a nice job of cherry picking data to make your point though. Comparing how states receive and spend money as compared to the Fed Gov't is just silly in the most basic form. In its most basic form, the cost of money is much higher for states than the Fed so of course they would avoid it more, in addition the items of responsibility the Fed currently has is far greater than what a state would be responsible for paying. Now if you had said they are better stewards of our money and that had mattered in this article maybe you would have a point but this is about stewardship of the land and you have not once made a valid backed by some form of evidence that local govt would actually be better stewards of the land. Your only argument is prove the feds are better. Nobody needs to do that as the Feds are responsible for that land so for action to take place to change that their should be a pressing reason and you have again not provided one other than to state your opinion of the Fed Govt. Oh and to answer your question yes I do view chronic deficit spending as responsible if it's because commitments have been made but people are unwilling to pony up the money to meet those commitments.