Bacterial contamination of Jacks Fork

This is a heads up for anyone planning trips to Jacks Fork in south central Missouri.

It is sad that it has come to this. This topicc came up before on this board. Ironically, that post seemed to come from a troll trying to scare paddlers off of the river.

Having spent a week in emminence, unfortunately during the cctr, I would not be surprised if there is a link between the horses and the e coli. I have seen the horses getting bathed in the river. I have also seen the campgroundsd overcrowded with horses. Ever since I worked for the city public works “$%it flows downhill”

has been a popular saying of mine. When it rains during the cctr, there is no way to keep the sewage out of the river.

Unfortunately, this is a real problem everywhere. There was just an article (probably AP) in the local paper yesterday about waterborne bacteria like this.

No troll here…

– Last Updated: Aug-16-05 1:04 PM EST –

I have posted on several occasions regarding the pollution problem on the Jacks Fork River. Several posts I made stated the problems there "prior" to the recent article referring to bacterial contamination on the Jacks Fork. I will continue to bring that issue to the attention of those who seek information about paddling on the Jacks Fork River. Clearly stated; the Jacks Fork River below Eminence, Missouri is "polluted", with high levels of E.coli and fecal coliform bacteria. That section of the Jacks Fork River was "already" on Missouri's list of "impaired" waterways "prior" to the recent tests & newspaper article. It looks & smells just like the sewer it is!

Want another "troll" scare? The coliform levels in Big Shawnee Creek (which empties into the Jacks Fork River) were about 3 1/2 times the state standard for recreational use this past thursday, according to the Superintendent of the Ozark National Scenic Riverway. Approximately 2.7 miles below where Shawnee Creek empties into the Jacks Fork River, the Jacks Fork River empties into the Current River. The confluence of the Jacks Fork & Current River is approximately 7 miles below a facility that boasts of a 63,000 square foot riding arena, and 2,991 horse stalls for rent.

Listen to the copouts:

"Additional testing is being done". How about addressing the problem! The tests already clearly show what the problem is. The powers that be have know of the problem for many years.
How about a little action!

"Low water levels & high water temperatures this year likely contributed to the high reading".
Is it any less polluted? No! If the water levels had been higher, the pollution would still have existed! A higher concentration of the polluted water would have been flushed into the Current River, diluting some of the Jacks Fork pollution.
Result; 2 Ozark Scenic Riverways being polluted! Problem solved? I don't think so!

The park service posted water-quality advisories in the 5 acre Shawnee Creek campground. Whoop-de-do! Everybody will see that! How about some action to resolve the problem? How many paddlers drive to the Shawnee Creek campground to check on water advisories? How about posting advisories at every campground, put in, and take out on the Jacks Fork River? Post them at the Eminence, Missouri city limits sign, and at all the canoe rental liveries, motels, liquor stores, gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants that cater to paddlers/floaters!
Not gonnna happen! $$$$$$$$

"It was the first time such a warning had been posted". They had never, ever, been aware of the pollution before? Wrong! They have known about it for years! How about some action to resolve the problem?

"Fecal coliform bacteria(an indicator of potential disease-causing pathogens) is usually not harmful itself". It's not? Then why is there a state standard for recreational use? Is 3 1/2 times the state standard harmful? Key words: bacteria, disease, fecal, pathogens! Get it!

"Water advisories will remain until scientists can tell that numbers are below the health standard". How will we know when that occurs?
Drive to Shawnee Creek Campground, and look for a posting of info.? How about some action to resolve the problem!

Cross Country Trail Rides say, "they work to control the amount of horse waste entering the river by encouraging responsible riders".They have 2,991 horse stalls available to rent! Their 75 acre campground is "bordered on 3 sides" by the "beautiful" & "pristine" Jacks Fork River(info. from their website). No river that is downhill from 2,991 horse stalls, 20 concrete manure bunkers, and a horse wash is pristine!
Can you say ground water contamination?

No need to worry...... In a few years the lead industry, and their "political cronies" in Missouri will manipulate(its a depressed area/it'll provide employment)lead mining into the areas surrounding the Ozark Scenic? Riverways. When they flush the water out of the lead mines(as they must), then mix it with lead tailings runoff, that witches brew will most assuredly filter into the ground water & shortly thereafter will find its way into the rivers. Some of those chemicals may? lay waste to the E.coli & coliform bacteria. Do a little research on the chemicals used in lead mining! It will also lay waste to the fish, turtles, birds, snakes, and any animal that wades in, swims in, or drinks the river water.

What the hell is the big fuss about anyway? They're just rivers designated as Scenic Riverways!
It's not like they're natural treasures or anything!
Nothing remotely as wonderful as Disneyland, Liberace's Museum, Graceland, Dollywood, Grant's tomb, Nixons Presidental Museum, or shopping at the mall or Wally World on a saturday afternoon.

Ignore this obvious troll.............
Rest assured that the politicians, bureaucrats, and those making the big bucks in Missouri will.
Greed, political power, and pollution are bosum buddies. Keep your mouth shut; you can be replaced with someone who knows how to "play the game"! Do some more tests; post an advisory out in the middle of nowhere, skew some facts, numbers & statistics. Be inventive!


Horses on the Jack’s Fork…
Bob, I read the article referred to in the original post, and I was amazed at the cop-out by the owner of one of the trail rides. He says he doubts that his horses are the main cause of the bacteria problem, and that if the bacteria is in the river, then people are stirring it up same as the horses. That sounds like a load of horse manure to me.

River Goddess


The problem.
The problem with pollution, it seems to me, begins at the ballot box. Major contributors to political campaigns have purchased office holders who really don’t care about clean air or water. The results should suprise no one. For example, I can’t tell you the last time I saw a frog at any of several lakes I paddle in eastern South Dakota. Our elected officials, from county commissioners to the governor to the U.S. Congresswoman, to the GOP U.S. Senator, are too willing to prostitute our natural resources to pay for one of the greatest scams ever foisted on the American people–ethanol. More ethanol requires more corn, which requires more petroleum and more farm chemicals–Roundup has now been implicated in the demise of the amphibians.

So it’s the same principle at work on the Jacks Fork as in South Dakota: too many special interests, too few politicians with brains or backbone, too few voters willing to hold their government accountable. Sounds like we’d better get used to pollution

Would like the Jacks to be “clean” when
I eventually get to run it. However, based on experience here in Atlanta, I recommend that people insist that the Park Service be very specific about e coli measurements and risk level.

Here in Atlanta, the Park Service posts “HIGH Risk of Infection” when e coli levels reach the point that risk of infection is estimated to be 1/100. Is that risk level what one would call “high”? Actually, my informal polls of trout fishermen and other paddlers on the Chattahoochee indicates that frequent river users are not getting sick. And the Park Service risk estimates appear to be based on west coast beach drainpipe studies. The Park Service does not have actual human infection data for the Chattahoochee, and appears to have no intention of getting it.

My objection is to the adjective “HIGH”. This is not a purely objective term, but rather a value judgement. I am concerned that if the Park Service is allowed to say what is “high”, they may soon be telling us when we can, or cannot, use the rivers.

Some in Atlanta think that when the Park Service began posting their “high” warnings, recreational boating on the Chattahoochee River took a steady downturn, resulting in outfitting and shuttle services disappearing. Certainly the rafting and casual canoeing traffic is way down from what it was a few years ago.

Of course, it might be a good thing if bacterial hysteria caused a downturn in the heavy Jacks Fork traffic. But don’t let the Park Service tell you when the river is unsafe until you know what “unsafe” means, and until they have a solid plan for remedying the situation.

“Clean” and “Dirty” Areas
It’s rare to see a horseback rider above Alley Spring, but the water levels are more rain dependant. The further up you go, the more it is a spring or high water run. Alley Spring adds enough volume to float any time. You see a few horses starting here, with the first “Horse” campsite a few miles below. But at Emminence, approximately 7 miles downstream, the river is not protected. The Cross Country Trail Ride headquarters are here. I have a few friends who are “Horse” people who came here to ride for years. But it has grown too big and even they don’t come here any longer. It’s pretty much all wealthy tourists who own horses. As I said previously, the stretch below Emminence to the confluence with the Current (Two Rivers) used to be my favorite stretch of river anywhere. I’ve caught hundreds of smallmouth in that stretch and had many an adventure, heck, saw my first otter on that stretch. Now, it’s like paddling through a stock feeding lot! It has been pretty much ruined for paddling. And what really scares me is that ANOTHER place catering to the horse crowd is getting itself established on the upper Current near Jadwin. My favorite stretch to fish now is Cedar Grove to Aker’s Ferry. The horse crowd is starting to utilize this area more and more, as some may have noticed if they’ve been to all the Ozark Rendevous’. Health issues don’t allow me to make my wilderness trips like I once did, and the Current and Jack’s Fork are where I spend most of my paddling. I’ve paddled these rivers for over 25 years and have seen the resource being degraded more and more. Special interests control the resource, and it shouldn’t be that way. Unfortunately, money “Talks” and most voters believe that ANYTHING that brings a dollar into the economy is a “Good thing.” Heck, remember when a Prison was a tough sell to a community? Now towns and counties fight each other tooth and nail to get them! I’m sad because I’ve lost my favorite stretch of river and see that my next best stretch may be going in the same direction all for a few dollars. I’ll quit my rambling now, gotta make a run to Alton, MO and pick up a boat and say “Hello” to the Eleven Point River. WW

The full article in the Post-Dispatch
Hello everyone. I am new to this message board and I am certainly no troll. The news article that I orginally posted came from the Columbia Tribune, but the full article appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch written by Ken Leiser. Here is the link to copy & paste in your browser:

After re-reading Ken’s piece (and he does cite several key authorities), it would appear that this beautiful waterway in southern Missouri has complex pressures being placed upon it. If this is the type of issue that we as water enthusiasts wish to persue, then at a minimum, we need to take time to forward this article on to our friends, legislators and elected officials. Perhaps if the St. Louis Post-Dispatch heard from us, they would run a follow up story. Just my two cents worth.

I am making an attempt to confirm a rumour that someone, or some organization, has filed a lawsuit against the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Supposedly, the lawsuit alleges that the Missouri Department of Natural Resources has failed to take necessary action to protect the Ozark Scenic Riverways from unreasonable/unnecessary amounts of pollution, even though they are aware of the sources of much of the pollution.


And quite a load at that!
I was a bit amazed at the first “quick fact” from the Colorado State Univ. site on manure management,

That is sad.
How many canoeist use that river every year? I would bet quite a few. Sounds like too many people. We have that probelm in our rivers here too. Every year in august bacteria warnings get posted at high use waterways. Most paddlers around here do not practice low impact type camping. They ruin some pretty nice places when they come through in herds this time of year.

Too many people. Too small a world. I don’t go camping in the summer. People suck. Not everybody but generally speaking humans are nasty critters. Get too many of them hanging out in the same place and we get contamination just like Missouri.

If I had to guess, I would say a goodly amount of the bacterail problems along that river, as with almost any decent river in the country this time of year, is overuse by people just like us. And horses asses also.

I am ready for cooler weather to thin out the crowds before I go camping again. Cooler weather seems to have a cleansing effect on river for some strange reason. Know what I mean?

I could not have said it better
myself. I as well as the folks I paddle with enjoy the river for what “it” is. Not the crap, the music, the motors or the animals from home or the farm that we bring along. To me it’s all about the river, honing your paddle skills, getting outdoors and the good company you choose to paddle with. Just the rude behavior of the boaters on the river is bad enough, let alone getting poisoned by human and horse waste.

Respecting the space of others, and respecting nature has long since faded from the mainstream.

When the rivers get crowded in January, I’ll take up golf.

Not to worry Duggae…
The “river dorks” & the trail riders will be at home, snug as a bug in a rug, in January. It’s “not” about the river to them; it’s about the “party” atmosphere of huge crowds & large doses of alcohol & drugs.

This winter the river will be just like last winter; all ours!

Now, if we could just get the bureaucrats, bean counters, paper pushers, pass the buck artists, wheeler-dealers, and “for sale” to the highest bidder politicians to get off their asses, and do something to deal with the problem of the pollution!

It’s not like they don’t know where the “crap” is coming from! They “studied it to death” & have known exactly where it comes from for “years & years”!


Thanks for this post!
As a long time horse owner and paddler I can tell you there are pigs in both groups. In sensitive areas, we used to clean up after the horses.

One solution would be to apply the national laws regarding livestock waste to this situation. The laws exist and the facilities could be brought into compliance. Also, there are national laws regarding damage and errosion to trail systems.

River dorks and rhinestone cowboys are usually too altered to notice that they are recreating in a sewer of their making. Bob is dead on about that. I have responsible trail riding friends who won’t go to that area because they don’t want to deal with the crowds and add to the mess. They are as upset as you folks are. I will give this info to them and they can use it in their preservation efforts.

I will be writing to the Mo DNR to plead with them to enforce the laws already in place. I’ve been paddling the Current and Jacks Fork since the 70s and would like to be able to continue to do so.

Mo DNR entering rule-making phase

– Last Updated: Aug-21-05 6:45 AM EST –

This article appeared in the Columbia Tribune on Aug 18 and offers more insights into the rule making phase regarding degradation of streams in Missouri. The Current & Jacks Fork fall into the tier III category, which does NOT allow for degredation of existing water standards. This article may confirm another poster's concern of a rumor about Mo DRN being sued. It was the Missouri Coalition for the Enviroment that sued the EPA over Missouri’s lack of compliance with the Clean Water Act and won a settlement from a federal judge in December 2004. Interesting reading. Here is the link:

Not just in your area
’bout two weeks ago, I posted about the liquified manure spill on the Black River (a prime salmon nad trout fishing stream as well as the site of an upcomming WW Kayak competition)in upstate NY.

Seems; as the small farmer has been pushed out of business the regulations on the large commercial hog,cow,and possibly sheep farmers have been relaxed (can we say Lobby$$$)

Mo DNR refers CCTR to Attorney Gen
For those following this string, there may be good news. This is an email that I just received from Mo DNR. MissouriKid

“Thanks for your interest in water quality in Jacks Fork and I apologize for delay in responding to your E-mail. Missouri department of Natural Resources has referred the Cross Country Trail Ride to the office of Attorney General for appropriate legal action. We will make sure through our court system this facility is in compliance with law. Thanks again.”

----- Forwarded by Jennifer Alexander/OAC/MODNR on 08/19/2005 12:02 PM

Missouri AG
That is good news … and pretty surprising given the pro-business bias in Missouri government these days. But luckily Jay Nixon is the AG and he does take this stuff seriously. If anyone wants to contact the AG’s office to encourage some action, here’s the link to the AG’s contact info:

Tell him this cr*p has to stop!

Actually, large farm operations are coming under more scrutiny than ever.

Generally speaking the small farmer gets more compliance flexibility than any large operation. Small farms are not always cleaner, it’s just a smaller more dispersed impact.

Take a look at the EPA link below for some info.