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Current Makes List of Most Endangered U.S. Rivers

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Kally Higgins with the group Friends of Ozark Riverways speaks during Tuesday's press conference at the Alpine Shop in Kirkwood. (KMOX/Brett Blume)

Kally Higgins with the group Friends of Ozark Riverways speaks during Tuesday’s press conference at the Alpine Shop in Kirkwood. (KMOX/Brett Blume)

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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) –  The Current River in southeast Missouri is one of Missouri’s most popular destinations for boaters, anglers, tubers and partiers.

In fact it’s too popular according to Gordon Philpott with the group American Rivers.

“The river’s being loved to death,” Philpott claimed during a news conference Tuesday morning at the Alpine Shop in Kirkwood.  “Unless we do a better job managing the riverways, there will be nothing special to pass along to future generations.”

Philpott says the problem can be explained in simple terms: too many people are using the river and leaving too much trash behind when they leave.

That’s why for the first time in the group’s 26-year history of releasing a report called “America’s Most Endangered Rivers”, the Current River and the related Ozark National Scenic Riverways have made their way onto the list.

Unauthorized access to the Current is a growing problem.

The report shows that in 1984, there were 13 developed river access points and public campgrounds in the Ozark Riverways Scenic Park, which takes in the Jacks Fork River.

Today, there are more than 130 vehicular river access areas, causing erosion that’s eating away at the region’s natural beauty.

“If the National Park Service doesn’t do a better job of protecting these rivers, everything that makes them special – their clean water and value to paddlers and anglers – will be lost,” said Fay Augustyn, Conservation Associate for American Rivers.  “Overuse on the riverways is a sympton of a bigger problem.  The public is hungry for river recreation opportunities.  We need more designated areas so people can access and enjoy rivers.  With a little investment we can protect river health and support the huge publilc demand for river access and recreation.”

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