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The last of five public hearings regarding a 20-year plan for the Ozark National Scenic Riverways in Southeast Missouri is scheduled for today in Clayton, Mo. The first hearing in Van Buren on Monday drew 260 interested participants. All of them had ideas about levels of use and access to the Current and Jacks Fork rivers, the two spring-fed streams that meander 130 miles through 80,000 acres of Ozark forests managed by the National Park Service.
The two rivers are magnets for visitors who like to boat, float, canoe, swim, picnic, fish and camp. Some 1.3 million visitors last year, mostly during the warm months, show how popular the area is.
At issue in developing the plan for future use is how much use is too much. Should the horsepower on boat motors be limited? Should development be checked? Should parts of the riverways be returned to primitive wilderness? Should nothing be done?
Even though the last hearing is today, comments on the proposed plan may be submitted until July 31 through a special website that explains the proposed management plans and provides a method for sending online comments: