Congressman Jason Smith Critical of Ozark National Scenic Riverways Draft General Management Plan
SALEM, MO – Today, Friday, November 8, 2013 Congressman Jason Smith released the following statements regarding the release of the “Draft General Management Plan” for the Ozark National Scenic Riverways in Missouri’s Eighth Congressional District.
“Here we go again. First it was the National Blueways System, then it was the Park Service telling us that Baptisms could not be performed without permits, and now we are learning the Park Service wants to close access points on the river, designate new wilderness areas and limit horsepower for boats. The Ozark National Scenic Riverways is already over-managed. The Riverways support a vibrant and growing tourism industry that is critical to our region. I support the ‘no-action’ proposal that would make no changes to the current operating system and I will strongly advocate against further encroachment by the Park Service on our public lands.”
On July 17, 2013 Smith questioned Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell during a hearing of the House Natural Resources Committee. At that hearing, Smith told the Secretary, who has jurisdiction over the National Park Service, he was opposed to any General Management Plan that limited access to the river, closed trails, proposed new restrictions on boat motors, or called for new wilderness area designations. This “Draft General Management Plan” appears to ignore Smith’s public concerns.
Smith encourages public comments about the “Draft General Management Plan” during the 60-day public comment period and attendance at the December 10, 2013, public meeting at the Van Buren Youth & Community Center, located at the intersection of Business Highway 60 and D Highway, Van Buren, MO 63965.
“Although I warned Secretary Jewell about limiting my constituents’ access to public lands, my concerns fell on deaf ears. I encourage everyone who has an interest in the Ozark National Scenic Riverways to make their voice heard during this comment period for the Draft General Management Plan. I also encourage attendance at the December 10th public hearing in Van Buren. We will need everyone in our Eighth Congressional District to band together.