Ozark Rivers National Monument
A Proposal
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To preserve outstanding portions of this area, it is proposed that an "Ozark Rivers National Monument" be established as a part of the National Park System.

The objective, under the 1916 Act establishing the National Park Service, would be preservation for the public enjoyment of this and future generations, of scenic, scientific, and historical values which are sufficiently outstanding or unique to be of interest to the country as a whole.

The proposal contemplates setting aside in public ownership as one administrative unit approximately 113,000 acres. These are disposed generally as narrow strips along the Current and Eleven Point Rivers and Jacks Fork, with minor extensions to include important features. One centrally located larger block incorporates a fine section of typical Ozark county. It recognizes preservation as basic and proposes a zoned approach, to that end, for public use, management, and development.

Certain planning considerations stand out in arriving at the basic proposal and in considering preliminary ideas for public use and development.

The still relatively unspoiled character of the area, the definite feeling of wilderness in part, and the unusual diversity of outstanding natural features, including some of the finest remaining free-flowing streams, lead straight to preservation as the important consideration.

Proposed Ozark Rivers National Monument. (click on image for a PDF version)

In determining what should be included, the rivers themselves as the physical, emotional, and recreational backbone of the area, carry major weight. Also, by the very nature of geologic processes, springs, caves, rock formations, even the better scenery are concentrated along the major streams. As a result relatively narrow strips can be proposed—sufficient only to protect important values and features and minimize undesirable encroachments. One larger central block to round out the picture of typical Ozark hills is the only exception found necessary. Breaks are left at Van Buren and Eminence to allow elbow room for growth. Montauk, Round Spring, Alley Spring, and Big Spring State Parks, though contiguous to the Monument, are not included. These would continue to play a complementary part in providing for public enjoyment and in preserving fine areas and features.

There is increasing need to consider quality of experience in providing for the public's likes and interests. The existing situation, natural and manmade, points to the logic of a zoned planning approach. The distribution of natural values, the degree to which they now remain unspoiled, the ability of the rivers to stand public use without damage to their particular qualities, the distribution of population, towns and highways, all support the soundness of this conclusion. Jacks Fork and portions of the Upper Current River, for example, have the wild, intimate, and fragile qualities suitable for wilderness-type experience with a minimum of intrusive development. Between Van Buren and Doniphan, in contrast, the Current, grown much larger though still very attractive, could absorb greater and more diversified use and development.

"Floating" and "float-fishing" will continue to have a special appeal for some. To a degree it will set a pattern of relaxed and pleasant river use.

Public ownership of lands within the National Monument is found to be essential to this proposal. This is based on the need to protect important features, exercise reasonable scenic control, guard against possible encroachments, and provide the type and quality of experience the public should have a right to expect now and in the future.

Consistent with National Park Service policy, anticipated developments within the area would be limited to those required for access, for the various types of activity, for a fuller understanding and enjoyment by the public through interpretive programs, plus those needed for control and management. It is anticipated that normal overnight, eating, and shopping facilities would be provided through private enterprise in the nearby communities.

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Last Updated: 04-Nov-2009