Public comments on the future of three Missouri State Parks properties are now available online at mostateparks.com.
The three properties, which have not been developed and are currently closed, are Ozark Mountain State Park in Taney County, Bryant Creek State Park in Douglas County and Jay Nixon State Park in Reynolds County.
The comments were gathered during a public comment period that was open from Dec. 4, 2017, through Jan. 6, 2018.
Missouri State Parks (MSP) kicked off the comment period with a series of public meetings to discuss the future of the three properties. The public could submit comments about the properties in three different ways.
If they attended a public meeting, they could fill out and submit comment cards available at the public meetings. They could also complete an online survey on the Missouri State Parks website.
A few people and public entities chose to send emails or other correspondence directly to Missouri State Parks.
The River Hills Traveler viewed all of the comments online and pulled a few to publish in this story. The commenter’s name and address were not published by MSP.
Ozark Mountain State Park (Taney County)
The Ozark Mountain property is located in western Taney County, on the north fringe of Branson’s urban zone. It covers 1,011 acres and borders Ruth and Paul Henning Conservation Area.
There is a 2.2-mile stretch of Roark Creek, upstream of Lake Taneycomo and the Branson urban zone.
The property also features 430 acres of Ozark glades and 400 acres of forest, as well as five bald knobs (hills bare of trees), and the historic Garber one-room schoolhouse.
The woodlands and glade along Roark Creek and East Fork Roark Creek contribute to the water quality and aquatic habitat by providing shade, surface and groundwater inputs, and watershed protection in the rapidly urbanizing areas of Branson.
According to MSP, the property had been operated as a ranch for much of its recent history.
Many of the plants and animals found on this property are unique to Missouri’s glades or are distinctive to the region.
Roadrunner, painting buntings, Bachman’s sparrows, collared lizards, spotted skunks, long-tailed weasels, tarantulas, scorpions and ringed salamanders have all been known to occur and some are common, according to the Missouri State Parks.
Some of the online comments include:
• “This is historic property and should be treated as such. Minimal development — gravel parking, paths, washroom, trash receptacles. Wilderness parks are very important and combine with conservation state park land, and watershed protection in Taney County. Please do not let developers in,” said a resident in the Branson area.
“Ozark Mountain State Park is very important and significant, historically as well as environmentally. The preservation of the Garber schoolhouse is important to our local history and culture and closely tied to the Shepard of the Hills,” said a resident in the Springfield/Ozark area.
“A few dollars for restoration of the schoolhouse and interpretive, but primitive, trails is all that is necessary to preserve this special area for future generations. To sell this property to private individuals would be a major loss to local citizens and visitors alike.
“The park can and will be a economic generator for both the DNR and local economy. The Ozarks’ natural area, especially in the Branson area’ is disappearing at an alarming rate. This park serves as a representation of a beautiful and limited resource.”
• “It’s really important to preserve this glade habitat. It’s an excellent opportunity for natural exploration by school kids, families and tourists in the Branson/SWMO area,” said an unknown resident.
“Being outdoors in our parks is good for physical, emotional and spiritual health, also important economically. Parks, and attention to natural resources, help people understand the connection between our individual and community health and the health of our water, soil, air and food. Help maintain our parks and natural resources,” said a resident in the Springfield/Republic area.
Bryant Creek State Park (Douglas County)
The Bryant Creek property is located between the southern part of Douglas County and in total covers 2.917 acres.
According to MSP, it is portioned in two tracts: the 2,691-acre Simorg Tract and the 226-acre Simpson Tract, which includes a 50-acre pasture and homesite.
Both tracts are bordered by Bryant Creek.
Some of the attributes Bryant Creek features are four tributary hollows, 4.9 miles of perennial or intermittent streams, numerous sandstone ledges and outcrops, with overhangs ad wet-weather falls, Coon Den Bluff, a distinctively tall and scenic geologic feature, and abundant wildlife, including black bears.
The property features rugged, steeply dissected river hills fronting Bryant Creek, a scenic fishing and floating stream into the North Fork River.
The property, however, is most prominent for its aquatic feature. The 1.7-mile stream flows through natural forests, alternating between floodplain forest and bluff talus.
The upstream portion features a long bend around a developed riverfront forest.
Several comments were also made about the future of this state park, including:
• “Sell all this newly acquired land and spend the money on upkeep and development of the millions of acres you already have and don’t take care of,” said an unknown resident.
• “I grew up near KC and lived near Watkins Mill SP and went swimming, biking, horseback riding 2-3 times week. Took my kids to Stockton Park multiple times/summer to fish, boat, camp. State parks are an asset to Missouri families,” said a resident in Willow Springs.
“Bryant Creek’s 3,000 acres could be an economic asset to Ava and Douglas counties of 10K to 15K property to revenue is small compared to possible economic impact. Cities all across Missouri give tax breaks to attract business.”
• “I love all the state parks. I’m here to say that if they tear down the parks, it would ruin the kids lives. I’m one myself, but the kids go to the national parks to get away from the city and connect with nature and with the creatures, the plants and etc,” said a resident in the Seymour area.
“I hope they realize that the woods, parks, river and etc., would tear down society itself with no nature, no deer, pigs, and etc. But the parks are here so kids like me can go out of the city and connect with nature and hopefully my message can get to people to see that when those parks go down, so will everything else. I’m 14 and I want to help save the park from destruction.”
• “This potential park is a one-time opportunity. The geographic and natural features will not be able to be obtained in the future. This park is necessary to balance the distribution of state parks to allow for more balance for southern Missouri,” said a resident in the Rogersville area.
“I strongly encourage that Bryant Creek be retained by the Parks and developed in small stages as resources are made available from state government-private citizens and business. This decision may the most important for MO Parks in our lifetime.
• “I’m a natural resource manager, forester, and beekeeping instructor. I’ve lived and worked in conservation around the world, including Hawaii… and Bryant River watershed, it’s the BEST,” said a resident in the Trail/Gentryville area.
“It’s a unique place that must be cherished and preserved. I teach natural beekeeping seminars near Rockbridge, MO and they attract people from literally all over the world. People travel from all over the US, Canada, and overseas to see this area and taste the unique honeys that wild Ozark plants produce.
“Honey is really the ‘flavor of the place’ and Bryant River honey stands out and commands 10x higher price than US average, speaking to the quality and diversity of the vegetation in this area.
“Keep the land, converse it, do minimal development, and don’t log it. Bryant River river hills are a jewel.”
Jay Nixon State Park (Reynolds/Iron County)
Jay Nixon State Park covers 1,231 acres, most of which are in Reynolds County though roughly 100 acres of it lies in the northeast corner of Iron County.
The property is adjacent to Taum Sauk Mountain State Park and it shares a border with Ketcherside Conservation Area.
The key natural attributes to the property are the outstanding St. Francois Mountains scenery, a 50-acre lake with two miles of shoreline, and the park includes a portion of the Ozark Trail.
According to MSP, the property features a distinctive St. Francois Mountains forest and glade landscape and consists of two long ridges with a deep, narrow valley between a 50-acre manmade lake.
The Taum Sauk region is known for its extensive forest cover, which attracts migratory birds, and is home to more than 800 species of native plants.
The trees are a mix of oaks, hickories and shortleaf pine. There were opposing comments about the future of this state park, including:
• “It needs to be sold. They use money that was not for the park. It was for cleaning up the lead from Asarco,” said a resident in Middle Brook.
• “You need to sell the land and use it for what it was intended, Asarco cleanup. Need to let people hunt hogs as they are tearing up our land,” said another resident from Middle Brook.
• “Please do not close or consider closing any parks either in remote areas or urban areas, both are vital. Please consider protecting every available source of water for nature, for recreation & future drinking needs,” said a resident in the St. Mary area.
“More campsites are necessary — it is often hard to get into parks for camping and shower houses are sometimes inadequate for campsites. When I travel to other states (and camp) and have to pay fees just to drive into a park (Minn and Iowa), I am very PROUD that the sales tax supports our parks and makes them accessible and affordable for all.
“Our parks are wonderful, let’s have more. The programs that start youngsters hunting and fishing are also great.”
• “I am in favor and support keeping Jay Nixon State Park. Missouri State Parks are unique and accessible and important to residents. I would like to see Conservation groups, individuals and interested groups participate in management and upkeep of Jay Nixon SP,” said a resident in Farmington.
“I think schools could be offered the option of developing groups to help maintain parks. I work for a healthcare system and I think healthcare systems could advocate for the health benefits of our State Parks & organize groups to help maintain State Parks.”
• “This could be a premier park in our area. We’ve had a cabin at Lake Killarney since 1976 and we retired here 2 years ago,” said a resident in the Iron Mountain/Ironton area.
“We have visited the parks probably a couple of hundred times, brought our friends & family, hiked the trails and camped in the backwoods. Jay Nixon Park has wonderful features and will be an asset to our community.
“Eighty percent of Missourians supported the extension of the state parks, soils and waters tax last year. We had over 21 million visitors last year. Please do not take away free public recreation from Mo families.”
A full list of all comments made regarding each state park can be found at mostateparks.com.