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  Critique of SLPD Article on ONSR
  Posted by: gremmie on Feb-04-14 7:38 AM (EST)

Toward a Finite-Planet Journalism

The author gets a few details wrong but he offers the big picture of how the ONSR controversy fits into our almost universally accepted economic view that man can force the earth to accommodate the imperative for endless growth (partly via our delusional faith in technology).

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  More action by the Missouri House
  Posted by: pblanc on Feb-04-14 12:31 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Feb-05-14 10:02 AM EST --

As I mentioned in your other thread, I thought the people whose quotes were chosen for the St Louis Post Dispatch article slanted it heavily towards locals opposed to the NPS draft general management plan and showed that most of the folks quoted had obvious fiduciary interests at stake.

Some of the themes that are constantly parroted are

1. Locals are the best possible stewards of the riverways because they live there and care more about them as a result.

2. Any attempts to regulate usage of the ONSR will devastate local economies.

3. Any restrictions on usage of the ONSR will unfairly deprive locals of their "heritage".

4. Missourians in general, and local residents in particular, are better situated to determine optimal usage for the ONSR than aloof bureaucrats in Washington, DC or "environmentalists" who have never been to the ONSR or plan to visit it in the future.

Most of this is pure crap. Although many, perhaps most local users of the ONSR are excellent stewards we have all seen scenic areas and riverways devastated when left in the hands of local "stewards" when their usage has been determined by the almighty dollar absent any external protection.

As for heritage, I think that the many of the residents of Shannon County have been singularly fortunate to have so much of their heritage preserved and I'm not sure this would have been the case without the protection of the ONSR. I understand that some local landowners were displaced against their will and understandably feel otherwise, but their feelings won't be changed by whatever action the NPS takes. My hometown is not remotely like the place I grew up in, and I suspect that applies to many of us. When I watch old time videos shot on the Current River predating the ONSR I am impressed by how little the river has changed.

As for local economies, one would think that spending by visitors to the ONSR would be a prime consideration. Data compiled by the NPS:

shows that between 2005 and 2010 (the most recent year for which data is available) recreational visits to the ONSR were between 1.24 and 1.80 million per year. Overnight stays varied from 139 to 185 thousand per year. Spending by non-local visitors (defined as living outside a 60 mile radius of the park) was consistently 88-93% of total spending.

A visitor survey done in 2006 (reported in the NPS draft GMP) indicated that about 26% of visitors rented a canoe, tube, or raft. (Another 10% utilized some other commercial service.) Non-motorized watercraft users were 9 times more likely to utilize campground facilities than were motorized watercraft users.

Twenty-six percent of the 1,491,380 recreational visits represents 387,759 visits. That is about 47 times the total population of Shannon County per the 2012 census. So even if every person living in Shannon County were out on the rivers every day of the year their recreational usage would still be exceeded by visitors renting a canoe, tube, or raft the majority of whom likely live outside a 60 mile radius of the park.

I can't say that all non-local visitors to the park support some version of the NPS draft GMP but I strongly suspect a majority do. Jason Smith, and others, would have us believe that the boat sellers, marinas, and Cross Country Trail Rides will dry up and blow away if the NPS restricts usage of the ONSR in any way. Even under the most restrictive action alternative motor-powered craft would still be permitted on much of the Current River. The mass trail rides will still go on even if some unauthorized bridal trails are closed. If Jason Smith and the State Legislature were truly concerned about local economies I think they would be wise to consider the input of non-local visitors who have done the lion's share of the spending within the ONSR.

The Missouri House of Representatives is again about to pass a resolution or resolutions (HCR 8 and 9) which claims that

"a majority of the citizens of Missouri agree that the citizens of Missouri and those Missouri citizens most impacted in their daily lives are in the best position to formulate policy and regulations to manage and protect Missouri's natural resources as opposed to a federal agency headquartered in Washington, D.C."

and that "the previously announced "No Action Alternative provides the best balance to maintain the riverways' purposes."

I believe that the Missouri House did the same thing in 2009 after the NPS had its "steering meetings" for drafting the GMP currently under consideration.

I would urge any residents of Missouri who feel otherwise to contact their elected officials and also Representative Don Phillips who is the Chairman of the Missouri House Committee for Tourism and Natural Resources:

  Posted by: gremmie on Feb-05-14 5:48 AM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Feb-05-14 7:02 AM EST --

be it resolved that the authors of this feeble diatribe masked as a resolution, HCR9, have their little pointed heads firmly attached to the linings of their colons and that the majority of the citizens of MO would be well served by administering daily doses of strong laxatives to the Jesse James wannabees representing their rural constituencies in the MO state legislature.

Pete, really a good analysis of the economic reality of ONSR. Thanks for shedding some light on an area that is desperately in need of some light but where many prefer the shadows cast by the blind, rigid ideologies of "no" and "Freedom!" which ironically only build walls.

  Mayor Bloomberg on NPR
  Posted by: g2d on Feb-06-14 11:49 PM (EST)
cited the decision to end car traffic in Times Square, and how at first, there were howls of outrage. But with hindsight, everyone seems to think it was the only thing to do.

Establishment, and proper protection, of natural areas (such as Times Square) almost always ends up being an economic boost for surrounding areas. But it may cause certain cut-and-run entrepreneurs to lose. One might listen to the NPR series on National Parks, and note the battle by one misguided individual to exploit tourism on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. It took decades to root him out and send him packing---to the US Senate, where he caused further mischief.


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