The Eleven Point River (Courtesy of Marisa Frazier)
Sorry for the late post but, after all, it was Thanksgiving weekend, and I’m still stuffed. And thankful for so much! Kids and grandkids, my “girlfriend” of 43 years, friends and family, the Ozarks, clear creeks and lakes, the Buffalo River CAFO shut-down, the lawsuit against MO Senate Bill 391 progressing through the courts, and much, much more!
But then there is the threat to Eleven Point State Park.
By way of background: The creation of Eleven Point State Park was announced in 2016 on land acquired by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
The 4,167-acre state park was purchased with funds from a “superfund” settlement that provided for clean-up of contaminated lead mining sites in southeast Missouri and the restoration or replacement of damaged natural resources. It was one of four new state parks funded by the settlement monies, and is located along the Eleven Point River on what used to be the historic Pigman Ranch.
The Eleven Point River was designated a National Wild and Scenic River in 1968, and remains a state, regional and national treasure, accessed and enjoyed by many.
It didn’t take long once the new park was announced, however, for the agents of greed and consumption to pounce.
Plans for new hiking trails and new river access and usage amenities were put on hold by then-Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens’ administration in 2017, as they closed the park indefinitely.
Subsequently, Missouri legislators have proposed legislation to have the land acquired by DNR with settlement funds auctioned off to private interests. In addition, associates of the Missouri Farm Bureau and Missouri Cattlemen’s Association have filed a joint lawsuit seeking the same end. Both threats are currently on hold subject to judicial and legislative processes, but the risks to a National Wild and Scenic River are obvious.
Bottom line: do we want lands adjacent to the Eleven Point River, formerly know as the Pigman Ranch (yes, really “Pigman”) in the hands of corporate agriculture or developers? Or do we entrust their protection and nourishment for all of our citizens to the DNR, in line with original settlement objectives?
I know where my vote stands.
I encourage any who are available, and share concerns, to drive to the Oregon County Courthouse at 1 p.m. on Thursday, December 19, 2019 to show support for protection not development. A hearing is scheduled for summary judgement in the lawsuit. (Please contact email@example.com for more details.)
Public support matters, and this is an opportunity to stand up to those who would join in the corporatization of Missouri’s natural resources. Open Eleven Point State Park – don’t sell it!
This is yet another threat to Ozarks waters.
And, then there is the recent Upper White River Basin water quality report: 2019 Status of the Watershed.
Ozarks Water Watch has provided this valuable information since its founding in 2001. It utilizes volunteers to sample from 120 sites in five watersheds, including the four lakes of the Upper White and the James River, a major tributary.
Table Rock Lake (Courtesy of Dave Casaletto)
The information is good, though I’m not sure the news is. The overall grade: C.
Back when I was in school, which mind you, was a long time ago, C’s were frowned on around my house. This was a judgement we extended to our own children. There was nothing sparkling about a C, and extended to our waters, the metaphor is of concern.
Mind you, select parts of the Upper White earned A’s, and the overall data trend is generally flat, not declining. And, I’m excited that the White River now has its own Waterkeeper, Jessie Green, affiliated with the National Waterkeeper Organization, to help monitor and inform.
Still, surely we can do better for our citizens and the soul of our regional economy than a C? Just asking.
Lest I enter the Christmas season sounding like Scrooge, I want to share some grassroots stirrings that are admirable and encouraging.
Larry and Pat Campbell, who have been on the front lines of promoting a Taney County Health Ordinance to place restrictions on CAFOs in the face of heavy opposition from Jefferson City, recently hosted a showing of the thought-provoking documentary “Right to Harm.” It included a panel discussion of what to do next, and they were kind enough to invite me to participate.
Cheryl Marcum, Cedar County Local Control Organizer sponsored the same in El Dorado Springs last week. You will recall that Cedar County is the only county who has stuck their neck out for local control in the lawsuit against Senate Bill 391.
It was inspiring to see members of the community provide a standing ovation to the commissioners who stood up for their county.
El Dorado Springs panel (Courtesy of Cheryl Marcum)
So, personal thanks to Cheryl, Larry and Pat, Jessie, and Marisa for “taking it to the streets,” as the Doobie Brothers once sang, in support of local control and protecting our waters.
A status hearing on SB 391 is scheduled for December 10, with trial to follow early next year. The fate of Eleven Point State Park may be decided on December 19. Lots are at stake for Ozarkian waters going into the New Year.