Mother Nature has her own way of making us recognize her. The dark long days of winter have given way to the longer springtime daylight. Trees are budding, waiting until their right moment to pop their leaves to the world, waking up as the seasons change. The flowers are starting to bloom. Suddenly, it becomes a symphony of color in these hills; wildflowers, trees, and animals all greeting each after the quiet of winter.
In many ways, we are doing the same at the park. Many events and daily activities come together to be the operations portion of Ozark National Scenic Riverways, which kicks off soon. I began the year reflecting on the successful cultural events we hosted in October and December at Alley Spring and Park Headquarters. We continued with an Owl Prowl in February and are looking towards June and our Heritage Days. With each of these events comes planning, something we are doing now.
Planning also involves knowing what we have. The Ozarks boast a number of horse trail ride operations. Currently the park is working on Commercial Use Authorizations for these service providers. Until we can accurately assess this as an issue in the park, we cannot protect the resource or provide a quality recreation experience. If you are interested in pursuing this authorization, the website is: www.nps.gov/ozar/planyourvisit/permits.htm. Information is also available at park headquarters or by phone at 573-323-4236.
We are moving forward with our General Management Planning Process, finalizing the maps, making sure places on the map are really where they are. The planning discussions are for the whole community; we want to have an open dialogue with our neighbors and stakeholders to do what is best for the resource, protecting it for future generations, while still serving as a recreational location for the people of today. This mission directed by the United States Congress to the National Park Service 92 years ago provides challenging issues to us every day, but these issues are not insurmountable. We will strive to achieve an acceptable balance as we continue this important planning effort.
During the week of June 22nd, we will be hosting a series of open houses for the public to join us in determining how to best meet those challenges. We look forward to engaging people at several locations around the state. It will provide a great opportunity for all interested parties to provide their input into the planning process of Ozark National Scenic Riverways. For more information on these meetings or for a copy of the latest newsletter discussing potential alternatives, please visit our website at: www.nps.gov/ozar. The General Management Plan link is on the front page.
I look forward to seeing people in the park this year. I hope you will join us in your community in June.
Reed E. Detring