The Future of Johnson's Shut-Ins - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park

The Future of Johnson's Shut-Ins

The Future of Johnson's Shut-Ins
By:  Holly Brantely

Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park - Businesses along the black river are ready for tourist season to begin. But, will the tourists have reason to come? Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park will reopen Memorial Day weekend. But, there’s a catch. Tourists won’t be allowed to swim or camp as clean up continues from the Taum Sauk Reservoir break. That’s the news Lesterville residents heard at a meeting last night.  

Crews at Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park are still clearing debris. Ameren UE told residents at a meeting Thursday night the only way to clean the water is to drain the lower reservoir. And, that means things could get worse before they get better. So, some folks are preparing for a dreary tourist season. “People aren’t going to come down here to camp,” said Mary Roller. “These businesses are going to lose money from travelers. Some businesses see it differently. “A thousand cars a weekend go down there to look,” said Barney Phegley. Phegley owns Barney’s Bait Shop. “We get 25 or 30 cars a day asking where it's at.” He says it might not be businesses as usual but he doesn’t expect a wash out. “I think it'll be better in the long run,” said Phegley. “We've had a lot of visitors and nosy people and stuff like that.”

Meanwhile some private owners of campgrounds see an opportunity. “After the breaking of the reservoir, that will provide an opportunity because we’re not competing against the state,” said campground owner, John Engelmeyer. Engelmeyer counts on more tourists to come to his campground. “I’m optimistic. When the Shuts Ins Campground closed, it’s going to provide additional campers to other campgrounds like mine.”  Ameren, owner of the broken upper reservoir, is paying for newspaper ads that will say businesses on the black river are open. The state is going to take a poll of residents and business owners to see when people think the lower reservoir should be drained

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