Enjoying the water

Friday, June 8, 2007

Missouri is blessed with popular streams and lakes that attract thousands of visitors who enjoy water sports, camping and fishing. Unfortunately, how some individuals have a good time has made it all but impossible for others to enjoy themselves, particularly on weekends when some rivers and coves become enclaves of drinking, drugs, profanity and nudity -- not exactly the right atmosphere for a family outing.

Both state and federal officials (many of the most popular streams are part of the Ozark National Scenic Riverway system) have decided to take a stronger approach with over-the-top revelers on the water, both for the safety of the boaters and tubers and to make the waterways more appealing for everyone.

Citations are being issued for drunken behavior and drug use. The message: The rivers and lakes are for everyone, not just those who go overboard with partying.

The problem is there are only literally a handful of enforcement officers to police a shoreline equivalent to the entire coast of California. It would be nice if those who use Missouri's waterways would be considerate of their fellow travelers, but for some it will take a visit from someone wearing a badge.

One suggestion: Regular visitors to streams like the Current River say weekdays aren't so crowded and provide a better experience for visitors. If you can schedule around the weekends, your next float trip might be all that much more enjoyable.

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