Meetings on a draft management plan for Ozark National Scenic Riverways have concluded. A final decision is expected as early as summer.

A decision on a final management plan for the Ozark National Scenic Riverways is expected by summer, a National Park Service superintendent said Tuesday.

Bill Black’s comments come after a public comment period that drew several thousand comments.

“We were very pleased by the attendance at the public open house sessions held in January and for the many well-articulated and sincere comments that have been received.  I am extremely appreciative for the time and effort that folks have taken to become involved with development of a final general management plan, and am encouraged by the passion that so many have shown for the Riverways,” he said.

The public comment period for the draftbegan Nov. 8 and ended Feb. 7.  During that time nearly 1,500 people attended the public open house sessions. More than 2,700 comments were registered on the public comment website.  More than 10,000 names on several petitions were presented.  In addition, hundreds of letters have been mailed or delivered to park headquarters. 

“We have begun the process of reading and considering every comment that was submitted to determine if modifications to the draftare appropriate and necessary.  We anticipate that it will take several months to evaluate all the comments and incorporate the appropriate changes, he said. ”   

Following the distribution of the final plan document and a 30-day no-action period, a record of decision approving the plan will be prepared for signature by the Midwest regional director for the National Park Service. 

Black said no final decisions have been made about any of the management proposals in the draft  Specifically, there has been no change in the current situations regarding horse trails or boat motor horsepower, he said.   

The current use of trails will be allowed to continue until the NPS has established a new system of designated trails.    “The NPS is committed to developing a management plan that will protect park resources in the future, while still promoting recreational opportunity.  We anticipate our visitors can enjoy the park this coming summer as they have in past years, ” Black said.

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