To The Editor:

Nearly 50 years ago, the National Park Service answered Missourians’ desire to protect the stunning beauty of the Current River and its major tributary, the Jacks Fork River, by creating the Ozark National Scenic Riverways.

The waterways are nourished by 350 springs, lined by scenic, towering bluffs above and feed into 330 caves below. Over 200 species call the Riverways — and only the Riverways — their home, making the park that much more of a regional treasure.

The park isn’t just important from an environmental standpoint, either — visitors to the park generate a tremendous amount of economic activity in Shannon and Dent counties.

After decades of continuous abuse, the Current desperately needs strong management around pressing issues, including the closing of illegal and unauthorized trails and better enforcement of existing rules on horse use.

Only after a new general management plan outlines these essential protocols can the park start to repair the damage.

When we, as citizens, raise our voices to protect the Current River, we’re doing our part to make sure the places we love will remain natural wonders for future generations.

If the Current and Jacks Fork rivers are going to survive for our children and grandchildren to enjoy, the National Park Service must issue a strong management plan that will restore and protect the park.

I ask Missourians from across the state to come together in urging the National Park Service to release a lasting 20-year management plan which strengthens the protections for the park and allows for sustainable recreation.