My Dad and I opened the floating season in Missouri last weekend on the Current river with a two night canoe trip with friends. We had 6 people and 4 canoes. Even though we had some cold and wet weather the first day, we had outstanding weather the following day and were all very happy to get away from civilization for the first time this year. However, all of us expressed grave concerns to one another about the state of the Current River due to development of businesses encroaching on the river.
My father and I have been canoing together for 30 years now and he has always taught me any time we float these rivers (and when out in the wilderness in general) we should behave as stewards to preserve the river for our kids and future generations. I’m not talking about anything radical – really it’s just the idea that one should leave the area you traveled better than you found it or with as little impact as possible. This mostly involves just cleaning up after yourself but also includes picking up any trash that someone else has left behind, following conservation guidelines on fishing, etc., and in general being friendly to fellow river travelers.
Few if any of these courtesies are being given by surrounding and new development. In fact, it is clear development along these rivers has become a priority over preserving it for the future. Unlike 20 years ago, now when you canoe these rivers you will find drive up access to nearly every single good river bar camping spot, you will find a blossoming horse industry with trails along and through the river itself, leaving copious amounts of horse poop all over rock bars which people have been fishing and camping from for decades and in the river itself, giving rise to alarming amounts of E. Coli now found in once nearly pristine rivers.
If you’re interested there are a few links below via Sierra Club which explain what these rivers are now up against; a bill currently in legislature that calls for a gutless ‘No Action’ to be taken on two of the most precious spring fed rivers in the Midwest.
So get out there and enjoy them while you can, get pissed off on what our Missouri government officials are allowing to happen to these rivers, and let them know it’s not okay!