Dear National Park Service:

Imagine my surprise, shock and dismay, finding my favorite gravel bar no longer accessible for camping in the beautiful Ozark Scenic riverways. I am sure you can uote me valid reasons.

Camping here with our extended family has been a looked for experience, as our children, grand children and other family and friends gathered to share the beauty, peace and solitude together. Yes, we have had to clear up messes left by others, just to set up ‘our spot’. We know it isn’t easy to keep 100+ miles of river cleaned up and ‘fit for use’, but we and others like us are willing to do our part.  What we take in, we take out, and always some extra if it is there. We are self contained and self controlled. We fish, play in the water (when the canoers allow us to), enjoy each other and the wonder God made with this river through the hills.

Those of us old enough to have lived here before the park can tell tales of days when the river was free, wild and free to use.

The limit of 2 vehicles and 6 people to a camp site is fine, in the designated areas, but when you have 20 who want to be together for a few days, that does not work out well, especially in the summer months when the campgrounds are filled. My daughter’s family of 7  is already over your limit. Let alone adding in us, the other daughters and families. Do you really want them to miss out on the wonder and pleasure of Current River? I do not!

It’s a ‘fur piece to travel’, we do not want to just spend one short day, not when the hours around the campfire sitting chatting quietly give us a chance to catch up on the important but trivial things going on. Not when the joy of watching a small child make and eat his first s’more brings delight to that child and fond memories to the adults. Not when sharing a morning cup of campfire coffee with a rarely seen relative can make a special moment…

I realize there is abuse, campers and canoers who treat this area like it was a garbage dump. This is an obvious problem, no matter where you are or go, there are those who seem to think they can do whatever they want, whereever they wish with no concequesnces. We have tried and I think succeeded in teaching our family that they are responsible for keeping the earth in a good condition, and leaving it the same way for others.

I am so sorry that this has come to pass. I do not know where our next ‘family camp’ will be, or if it will be possible. I for one, will miss it this summer, more than you can imagine! Quite honestly, I would be willing to pay to have the family together here on the gravel bar, away fron crowds, noise and chaos of daily life, to spend a few days doing things together in old ways, building the bonds of family, ecological responsibility and love of nature that have been a part of this area – long before the Park was here.

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