River levels normal, business owners say come to Van Buren this - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

River levels normal, business owners say come to Van Buren this weekend

At last check, the water was just above four feet, which is a foot below flood stage. At last check, the water was just above four feet, which is a foot below flood stage.
VAN BUREN, MO (KFVS) -

If your Memorial Day weekend plans include a float trip on the Current River, you're in luck. Officials say river levels are normal despite all the rain we've had recently.

However, some local business owners say there aren't as many tourists planning to come to Van Buren when compared to years past. They say that could mean trouble for the local economy.

Officials with the Ozark National Scenic Riverways say the waters are safe and they are going down, which is good news for local business owners. They say they're ready to kick this busy season off right.

"We are really hoping for a big weekend this weekend,” Mike May says. He’s the owner of Current River Campground in Van Buren.

"We like to see [the campground] where you can't really see the ground for people walking around,” May said.

In the summertime, he says his family business is booming.

“We’ve got a 50-acre campground here and a half a mile of riverfront,” May said.

However, most Memorial Day weekends, most of these sites will be empty this weekend, unless people start calling and booking spots.

"Reservations are way off. We are at about 30 percent this year, where we were at 70 percent last year,” May said.

May says that's a problem, not only for his business but for the entire community of Van Buren.

"Tourism brings in a tremendous amount of money." Gene Oakley said. He has lived in the area for years and is a former county commissioner.

"The county has a one-cent sales tax. Well, for little Carter County, that’s 400,000 dollars a year that brings in,” Oakley said.

So why aren't people coming? Some say it's because people are worried about potentially high water.

"We get a lot of inquiries as to the level of the river and if the river is floatable and all that,” Tom Bedell, the owner of The Landing, said.

Bedell keeps a close eye on the river.

"Four or five days ago it was running completely through the gravel bar and at that point it was over five feet,” Bedell said.

He says the water has gone down and the Park superintendent at Ozark National Scenic Riverways, Bill Black, says by the weekend, it'll be perfect.

At last check, the water was just above four feet, which is a foot below flood stage.

"Everybody come!" Bedell said.

These local business owners are inviting you to come for a long- weekend get-a-way in Carter County.

"The rivers in great shape, all the businesses in Van Buren are geared up and ready and we just need people to come,” May said.

Black says all park campgrounds are also open and ready for this holiday weekend.

According to May, there has also been a rumor that the Park Service Management plan has officials changed river regulations this summer. KFVS News reported on that story a few weeks ago. Again, those changes won't go into effect until at least next summer.

To check river levels, visit this website.

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