Possibility of more regulations on the river have locals concerned

Possibility of more regulations on the river have locals concerned

VAN BUREN, MO (KFVS) - Plans to make some changes along the Current and Jack's Fork Rivers have locals talking.

Some say the proposed regulations would stifle local business and recreation.

Many people who live and work around the Current River in Van Buren say when they saw the Park Service's plan, they were concerned. Some say the plan would limit river access, which they say is unnecessary.

The waters that run through the Ozark National Scenic River way are draws for visitors and locals.

"We camp about every single summer," Cody Ogden said.

"Take the boat, go upstream away from all the tourists and have that seclusion and enjoy wilderness," Ogden said.

He said if some of the things in the current plan are put in place, his family's summers will be much different.

"One of the restrictions they are talking about is restricting the ability to camp on gravel bars and making it to where you can only camp in designated areas," Ogden said. "That's just not camping to me."

Even though it'll come with some changes, park employees say it's time for a new management plan.

"I don't think that 30 years ago we would have any idea of the amount of population and the amount of visitation we were going to get on the river," said park law enforcement officer Pat Jackson.

That makes for a crowded river, which is part of why the park service says some changes must be made.

If the current plan goes into place, boats with a motor larger than 40 horsepower would not be allowed to be put in at Big Spring Access.

Tom Bedell owns The Landing, a local business located on the Current River. He said the motor size limit it a problem because it will force bigger boats upstream near the Van Buren bridge.

"If they're pushed into this area, that's when you are going to have the boats and the floaters and the problems," Bedell said.

However, he said that's not the only issue that would affect business.

"My fear is that it's going to affect people who come over there with their own personal tubes that want to use these accesses," Bedell said.

Park employees say more people means a need for more regulations.

"Visitor patterns have changed, visitor recreational patterns have changes and issues came up that we needed to address." Faye Walmsley said.

Walmsley said the plan is not set in stone.

"It's a stepping stone; it's a gradual process of where we want to go." Walmsley said.

Jackson said by the completion of the plan, they hope to have found a happy medium.

"[It's] not so much take away people's freedom to be out here but to keep a happy and safe river not only for the visitors but for the things that live in and around the river." Jackson said.

None of the changes will occur this summer. Walmsley said the plan is expected to be finalized by winter and some changes could go into effect by the summer of 2015.

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