Current and Jack's Fork Rivers

-- Last Updated: Nov-09-13 3:01 PM EST --

For those who paddle the Current and Jack's Fork Rivers in Missouri, or entertain thoughts of doing so in the future, please be advised that the National Park Service, which administers the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, has just released a draft management plan that outlines alternative proposed changes to the existing management plan that dates back to the 1980s and early 1990s.

The draft management plan is a nauseatingly lengthy government document (534 pages in length) that can be accessed in the form of a pdf file here:

I read as much of it as I could stand (until I got a migraine and threw up in my mouth). From the point of view of paddlers, I think the most important aspects of the proposed changes are those that would impact the current river use management plan that was adopted in 1989. There are three alternative proposals which would restrict motorized boat traffic on the Jack's Fork and Current River from what is currently permitted.

"Alternative A" would restrict motorized boat traffic the most, prohibiting it on the Jack's Fork entirely and on the Current River down to Two Rivers during peak season, and down to Round Spring in the off-season.

"Alternative B", which is favored by the NPS would restrict motorized boat traffic less, and "Alternative C" less still.

There is a table summarizing key differences among the alternatives here:

and another table summarizing the motorboat horsepower limits for the different alternatives here:

The draft management plan is open for public comment until Jan 8, 2014. If you would like to support one of the proposed management plan changes, or the status quo please go to this National Park Service website and register a comment:

More info on draft management plan

– Last Updated: Nov-10-13 2:06 PM EST –

I have tried, at considerable peril, to digest a bit more of the NPS draft management plan for the Ozark National Scenic Riverways.

The three alternative proposals of course involve much more than the river management plan changes that were summarized in the links I provided above.

I realize that few people are going to be inclined to wade through this 500+ page document so I have tried to summarize key differences between the three alternative proposals. Most of this info is taken from Table 13 of the draft management plan, pp. 145-150, which can be accessed through this site:

Alternative "A" key points:

The percentage of land in the ONSR that would be zoned as either "natural" or "primitive" would total 95.4%.

60/40 horsepower engines would be prohibited throughout the ONSR on the Current and Jack's Fork (note that 60/40 hp engines are currently being tolerated on some stretches of the ONSR but they are against the letter of the law. It is unclear to me if and when the NPS would enforce the law if the "No Action" alternative is adopted).

The 6 existing designated campgrounds would be preserved, but as far as I can tell, no new campgrounds would be developed.

Some river access points open for concession floating would be closed and reconditioned and new ones might be opened, but the total number of access points for concession floating would decrease.

As many as 25 miles of new horseback riding trails would be developed, but there would be no new stream crossings for horseback trails.

Illegally developed roads would be closed. Vehicular access to all gravel bars would be eliminated. Gravel bar access would be walk-in or by boat only. Roads to primitive campsites would be removed. There would be no horse camping.

Alternative "B" ("favored" by the NPS) key points:

Percentage of ONSR lands zoned "natural" or "primitive" would totl 88.4%.

60/40 horsepower outboard motors would be allowed on some stretches of river (they are currently tolerated on some stretches of river but technically speaking, they are against the law).

There would be up to 20 new concession access points for float trips (while some existing concession access points might be closed) but the total number of concession access points would remain the same, or decrease.

There would be up to 35 miles of new horseback riding trails including new stream crossings.

A 25 campsite horse campground may be established (it is not clear to me where this would be).

Two new designated campgrounds may be provided, at Akers on the upper Current, and at Blue Spring on the upper Jack's Fork.

A "learning center" may be constructed at Powder Mill.

Roads to primitive campsites would be removed. The number of gravel bars accessible to vehicles would be "designated" and reduced from the existing number.

Alternative "C" key points:

The percentage of ONSR lands zoned as "natural" or "primitive" would total 34.7% (that's right, thirty four point seven percent). 59,6% if lands would be zoned for "resource-based recreation" and the remaining 5.2% zoned "developed".

60/40 horsepower outboard motors would be allowed on some sections of the rivers.

Up to 45 miles of new horseback riding trails may be developed including new stream crossings.
A 25 campsite horse campground may be established on the Jack's Fork River.

Two new designated campgrounds may be established at Akers (Current River) and Blue Spring (Jack's Fork River).

Existing vehicular access to gravel bar sites and overnight camping would continue to be allowed. Roads to primitive campsites would be removed and replaced with hiking trails.

"Additional facilities would be necessary to accommodate
higher levels and different types of visitor use. There would
be more types of designated camping opportunities,
including primitive, semiprimitive, semideveloped, and
developed sites. There would also be more boat ramps and
trails for hiking and horseback riding"

(the last paragraph is taken verbatim from the draft management plan document).

Sorry for the length of this post, but believe me, it is better than trying to read the parent document.

The bottom line…

– Last Updated: Nov-10-13 11:51 PM EST –

Alternative A is, in my opinion, without any doubt, the smart choice of "paddlers".

Alternative C is, in my opinion, without any doubt, the choice of those who view the river as nothing more than a place to use, to increase their personal income/fortune.

The people who cater to the "horse people" & all the money involved with that; horses, trailers, tack, feed, fuel, rental stalls, liquor sales, food sales, etc. They want more trails & more river crossings. Bet money on it; they have been & continue to lobby for alternative C.

Those who cater to the weekend "river dorks/drunks" & all that goes with that: canoe/kayak/raft rental, shuttle fees, liquor sales, food sales, etc. They want more accesses, and more campgrounds.Bet money on it; they have been & continue to lobby for alternative C.

Those who cater to the "jon boat jockeys" & all that goes with that: boat sales, trailers, motors, maintenance on boats & motors,parts, fuel, liquor sales, etc. They want more accesses, and they want the freedom to use higher horsepower motors. Bet money on it; they have been & continue to lobby for alternative C.

Those who cater to the travel trailers & all that goes with that: trailer sales, maintenance, fuel, food, repairs, liquor sales. They want more/larger campgrounds with electric hookup & sewage disposal available. Bet money on it; they have been & continue to lobby for alternative C.

Add to that those who want more land along the riverway opened to construction of the river Mcmansions. Real estate, builders, roofers, concrete companies, gas & electric companies, road builders, insurance agents, gravel companies, building suppliers, etc.

Those people will never quit, until they get what they want. And sooner or later; they'll get it!What do they want? More money flowing into their pockets.
The river? Screw the river! They don't give a tinker's dam about that river, and what happens to it! The river just presents opportunities for the greedy.
Anyone who thinks otherwise is naive at best.


P.S. Want to see what greed has done to the lower Jack's Fork River. Paddle from Eminence to where it joins the Current River at the Two Rivers access.
Check out the 2,000 plus horse barns/stalls for rent on river left, just below Emminence. As you continue downstream; check out the condition & the smell of the river. Looks & smells like a horse sewer.

Not to worry; the NPS is taking care of it; they've been "studying it" for about 15 years.
The river is polluted, but the horse business is great.

Well, I agree with you Bob,
pretty much anyway, which I find slightly alarming.

I did leave a comment in favor of “Alternative A”. I have to point out that “Alternative B” which is favored by the NPS is perhaps not entirely onerous.

It would allow 60/40 hp outboard motors, but only in areas where they are currently being “tolerated”. It would restrict power boats significantly more than the current river management plan does, prohibiting all power boats on the Jack’s Fork down to West Eminence and the Current down to Round Spring during peak season. It would still allow power boats as high as Pulltite and Bay Creek in the off-season.

Alternative “B” allows for the possibility that the Akers campground might reopen (which some might view as a good thing) as well as a new campground at Blue Spring. It also proposes to reduce vehicular access to gravel bars from what is currently permitted.

I have no objection to a “learning center” at Powder Mill as proposed in Alternative B. I am much less excited about new horse trails crossing the river and a possible 25 campsite horse campground opening on the river God knows where.

It is a minor point, but restricting motor traffic up to Pulltite during the off-season could work against our “Fall Ozark Rendezvous” gathering. When I called the ONSR last year to clarify whether or not the water would remain on at Pulltite through mid October (in view of the sequester) I was assured that it would remain on until the end of “gigging season” sometime in January.

Now I know next to nothing about gigging, but I am pretty sure it is traditionally conducted from powered craft, and if such are prohibited above Round Spring, it is perhaps likely that there would be no giggers at Pulltite and no water after the campground season is officially over.

I’m not trying to tell anyone which alternative to support, but it seems to me that “Alternative C” if adopted, could drastically change the nature of ONSR, IMO for the worse.

those people don’t even like alternative C. They want “no action”. they like things as they are, with little plan for protection of the resource.

Our illustrious idiot of a House representative supports the no action alternative. He said something to the effect that he would fight “park service encroachment on our public lands”. HUH??? Hey, doofus, those public lands are administered by the Park Service, and they wouldn’t BE public lands if the Park Service hadn’t come along and bought them up.

As much as I love my native Ozarks, I sure do dislike a whole lot of the people living there.

My view so far

– Last Updated: Nov-11-13 1:58 AM EST –

I am still trying to digest the differences among the plans. So far I am leaning toward Plan A, except for the following provision (which is also in Plan B and Plan C):

“Camping on gravel bars would be allowed in designated campsites only.”

This is a direct quote from table 13 - the alternative comparison table found on page 126 of the draft plan. Under the non-action alternative “campers would continue to be allowed to locate their own campsites on gravel bars.”

I will explore this further but one of the objectives in my comments will be to continue to allow paddlers and hikers to locate our own campsites on gravel bars and not be restricted to gravel bar camping only in designated campsites. However, my comments will support restricting other campers (drive in, ATV, horseback, etc.) to designated campsites only.

We do have until January to submit our comments, so I have more time to study the draft plan before submitting my comments.

I can understand why some paddlers may think it’s not worth their effort to submit comments because the moneyed interests always win. Well, they didn’t win when the Ozark Scenic Riverways was created, and they didn’t win their attempts to dam up the Grand Canyon or the Buffalo River.

It’s true that they usually win. It’s true they will keep trying. It’s also true that we have to win every time and they only have to win once because when they win the resource we are trying to protect (in this case the Current and Jack Fork) will be forever changed for the worse.

But goddamn it we have to f--k--g keep trying because if we don’t comment and keep trying to protect what we love then they will surely win and the Current and Jacks Fork will be worse off forever.

I Will Make My Voice Heard
Heck, I’m probably on the FBI’s “Surveillance roster” as I have been VERY vocal about my concerns on his stances to our illustrious “Teabagger” representative, Jason Smith. I’m certain he’d promote logging it, mining it, and building 5-Star hotels on the banks if he could pull it off? So, PLEASE, any of you whom use the Riverways or would like to visit, let your voice be heard!

Good point
Yes, others have noticed the entry in the table of proposed alternatives that states “Camping on gravel bars would be allowed in designated campsites only”.

Again, this applies to all three of the alternative management plans “A”, “B”, and “C”. I have not as yet found in the text of the document clarification of this statement as to whether this applies to paddlers on overnight river trips, and if so, which gravel bars would constitute “designated campsites” and where would they be located. The index of the document has no entries for either “gravel bars” or “camping”.

There is a facebook page for the Current, Jack’s Fork, and Eleven Point Rivers and others have posted queries requesting clarification on this issue.

That’s it buddy
You’re going on the “No Paddle” list straightaway.

and will promptly be sent a

Thank you VERY MUCH
for posting this. It’s immensely helpful to those of us disinclined to wade through all the BS to get to the really informative stuff you provided. I’ll paste the link on the ACC web site and put something about this in the next newsletter.


Hey Terry
If it’s a good horse you could trade it straight up for the Colden canoe of your choice - how does a Starfire sound?

Oh, by the way welcome to the club. I’ve been on the FBI surveillance list since 1969 when I circulated McGovern-Hatfield petitions to end the war while stationed in Minot. A year later we were under surveillance when we picketed Spiro Agnew at a campaign stop in Minot. I still have the peace flag I was carrying.

Aha, so
does that make you a pusillanimous pussyfooter, a hopeless, hysterical hypochondriac of history, or just a plain, old nattering nabob of negativism?

In the plan, it specifically states that the gravel bar camping will be restricted to designated sites only, EXCEPT FOR PRIMITIVE CAMPING. In other words, in all three alternatives, camping as it is done while floating–setting up your tent on any gravel bar you come to–will still be allowed. What this provision is trying to stop is the nimrods who pull their campers out onto gravel bars that are accessible by the often unauthorized roads. Unfortunately, this wasn’t pointed out in the news releases, so it’s one of the things that has gotten a lot of people up in arms and is being exploited by the “aginners” who don’t like the Park Service doing anything to control them.

Vic is a fan of Charlie Daniels; a loyal follower of brother John Birch, a member of the Antioch Baptist church, and has a commie flag tacked up in his garage.



You might be right

– Last Updated: Nov-11-13 2:14 PM EST –

but if you actually read this in the draft management plan can you support it with a page reference?

I certainly have yet to find in the document anything that clearly says that. On the contrary, what I have found thus far argues that gravel bar camping would only be allowed in designated areas.

I can refer you to Table 5, titled "Recreation Activities by Management Zone" which appears on page 49 of the plan. The fourth entry down in the "Activity" column is "Camping on Gravel Bars" and it carries the footnote "camping on gravel bars would only be allowed in designated areas." This applies to all of the river-based management zones, "non-motorized river", "seasonal mixed-use river", and "mixed-use river". As far as I can tell thus far the "designated areas" are not specified anywhere in the document.

Table 13 titled "Summary of Key Differences Among the Alternatives" says the same thing. In that table the row entry "gravel bar camping" which appears on page 126 states "Camping on gravel bars would be allowed in designated campsites only" and that is the same for all three proposals "A", "B", and "C".

As for camping being unrestricted in areas zoned "Primitive", even if that is true it won't help much in terms of camping on gravel bars accessible from the river. If you look at the land management zoning map for the proposed "Alternative A" that appears on page 67 you will see that even under that alternative, which has far and away the most land zoned "Primitive", only a small portion of the Current River above Round Spring would be zoned that way, just above and below Pulltite. None of the Jack's Fork below Bay Creek would be zoned "Primitive".

And if you look at the zoning map for "Alternative B" (favored by the NPS) on page 75 you will see that virtually none of the Current River (except for the aforementioned area near Pulltite) all the way down to Robert's Field would be so zoned. Under "Alternative B" the only portion of the Jack's Fork that would be zoned "Primitive" would be a portion of the stretch between Blue Spring and Rymers.

Under "Alternative C" (zoning map on page 81) you will find that none of the Current River would be zoned "Primitive" and the only part of the Jack's Fork that would be would again be a stretch between Blue Spring and Rymers.

It may be that the intent of the NPS is indeed to restrict gravel bar camping only for vehicular access but as far as I, and others, can tell so far, that is not spelled out clearly anywhere in the document.

Jo Shaper, who is the assistant editor of "River Hills Traveler Blog - Trav Talk" ( has made phone inquiries regarding this issue but has not yet received a definite answer. Here is a response she made earlier today to a query I posted on the blog:

"I asked for clarification on that Friday from the park’s information officer (in two phone calls) and was told that the “designated gravel bars” applied to drive-in party sites, and that the use of gravel bars by boat float campers needed to be clarified. I gave her my example that, in 1996, my husband, brother and I floated from Akers to Van Buren, and we never stayed in any designated campsite during the week because none of them were convenient to making 10-12 miles a day, plus we felt it actually safer NOT be at a developed campsite. If you read the document under Alternative A, it talks about preserving the character of remote float camping, but doesn’t go into any details. Remote float camping certainly would not entail herding people into designated sites. That defeats the purpose.

During my phone conversation, the information officer had an off the phone conversation with a co-worker; the gist of their discussion was it was directed against the drive in gravel bars, not the remote leave no trace float campers, but that was unofficial information.

After reading the interpretation in the story published yesterday in the Kansas City Star, I sent off an email re-asking the question to the Park’s fire information officer, whom I have been told is the guru on this document.

Today is a federal holiday, so won’t get an answer until tomorrow, but will post when I do. -Jo Schaper asst. editor
- See more at:"

Here is a link to the Kansas City Star article:

There has also been considerable discussion to the topic of gravel bar camping by river trippers on the Facebook page for the Current River, Jack's Fork, and Eleven Point, which interested parties can check out if they wish.

he is a mastermind in the ways of espionage.

Does the…
…body come attached with the head?

No message…or is it? (OK! OK! Kill the scratchy violins play’n Nino Rota stuff!)

I did think of that…
but didn’t want to go there…

Speaking of this group they all need to plan a retirement home on the Current River that allows geezers to paddle. And comes with a line of rockers on the bankside porch of course so they can continue their “conversation”

Because of the requirements, they will have to fund it. I don’t think such an animal exists.