VAN BUREN, Mo. — Some business owners near Missouri’s Ozark National Scenic Riverways are expressing concern about how the temporary closure of park sites and rivers after recent flooding could affect communities heavily relying on summer tourism.
The National Park Service spent days reviewing flood damage to buildings, camp sites and rivers earlier this month, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported (http://bit.ly/2qnKAbR ). The agency released a statement May 7 saying the sites would be closed until employees and volunteers finished cleaning.
“Please remember that both rivers are still closed for floating, and that all areas, facilities, campgrounds and river access points in the park are closed in an effort to keep visitors and employees safe until all hazards have been addressed,” said an agency announcement May 10.
People living in and near the towns along the rivers say visitors shouldn’t stop coming to the area for recreation in the summer because of floods, as the communities there need the support of tourism.
A 2016 park service report said more than 1.2 million people visited the area and spent $54 million in nearby communities in 2015.
“Eminence’s economy revolves around tourism,” said Jim Anderson, mayor of the small town that is parted by the Jacks Fork river.
Tom Beddell, owner of multiple businesses in the area, said his properties attracted 35,000 to 50,000 to the river in the summer.
“We draw a lot of people in the area, and they spend money in this town,” he said. “You can’t even measure the economic impact of this flood.”
Renee Bungart, spokeswoman for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, said the campground’s reopening date hasn’t been set yet.
Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com