February 1, 2014
Ozark National Scenic Riverways is just that... a "National" "Scenic" "Riverway” within the “Ozark” region. It is no less a National Park than Yellowstone or Yosemite. The purpose of creating and maintaining the Ozark Scenic Riverways is to preserve and protect this unique and beautiful area(s) for current and future generations. Preserving the natural aesthetic and protecting the fragile ecosystem are the primary and most important missions of setting aside this area as a Federal Parkland.
There needs to be tighter controls on preserving the Ozark Riverways - certainly not looser restrictions on the exploitation of these areas. Specifically, unauthorized Roads, ATV Trails, Horse Trails and Hiking trails should be closed and banned from use. In addition, I think that all motorized boats should be banned from the designated scenic riverways. These restrictions should be strictly enforced and backed with significant penalties to violators. It has been shown through numerous independent studies of the often irreversible consequences from this type of wide ranging overuse, including, compacted soils, increased erosion, changes to water quality & chemistry, loss of native habitat, reduction of indigenous species, increase in invasive species, and many other negative changes. Furthermore, this overuse is certainly not "scenic". One of the stated purposes of setting aside national lands such as the Ozarks is to preserve the "Scenic", pristine nature of the area. Preserving the scenic natural state of this area does NOT include hundreds of non-native Horses trampling the banks and fouling the water, It does NOT include ATV's and Motorized boats drowning out the quiet serene natural sounds of the area with their deafening engines. Preserving the natural sounds is not only a peaceful enjoyment, but an actual necessity in maintaining the ecosystem’s - such as – the call of a bird, a frog, a cricket, or squirrel. Smell is another extremely important element in nature for feeding & reproduction. Natural scents are overpowered by gasoline fumes, horse excretions, & fouled water from these high-impact activities.
Some people may argue that there are regional economic benefits to allowing these unrestricted activities in National Scenic Riverway areas, however, the contrary is actually true. The greatest economic benefit is in maintaining the pristine nature of the region for eco-tourism, low impact recreation, and conservation for biologic research. These wide ranging national economies far out-weigh the miniscule benefit from the exploitation of our resources by a few. If individuals and businesses want to participate or offer these high-impact activities, such as horseback riding and motor sports, they are free to do it on private lands outside of our national parks and away from sensitive waterways.
In Short: The Ozark National Scenic Riverways... are
Ozark: The Ozarks are a unique geographic, geologic, and ecologic area unlike any other - one that is vitally important and deserving of preservation.
National: They below to all of us as Citizens of this nation. NOT to a few users who choose to exploit these areas for financial and personal gain.
Scenic: These areas are to be maintained in as natural and pristine a state as possible. NOT molded, changed, disrupted, and "developed" into a man-made environment.
Riverways: The Ozark riverway system stretching hundreds of miles is delicately and inseparably intertwined. It is a series of interconnected mountains, hills, forest, glades, fields, caves, springs, creeks, & rivers. Disruption to any one part of this riverway system alters the balance of the entire system.
Matthew E Gieseking