Accessing Our Streams

I never thought I would say this, but the Missouri Department of Conservation needs to purchase some more land -- specifically land that provides access to our floatable/fishable streams. As increasing numbers of people from the coasts come to the Ozarks to enjoy the natural beauty of our hills, they are snatching up stream acreage and shutting down access points that have historically been open to the community. (I took the attached pic at a ford on Bull Creek yesterday.) Not that I can say I blame them. Between the partying, littering, criminal activity, and destruction of the stream bed by atv's and 4wd trucks, if I owned an access point I would probably shut it down too. Nevertheless, it becomes increasingly frustrating to anglers like myself who would simply like to slip a canoe in the water, or do some quiet wade fishing.

For example, Finley Creek (near my home) has roughly 19 miles of floatable water and several more miles of fishable water. It flows through one of Missouri's most populated areas (Springfield's bedroom communities), yet has only one MDC access point the entire length of the stream (Ozark city park). Many traditional access points (i.e. Riverdale) are now posted. And the one or two that haven't been posted (i.e. Linden) probably will be soon due to the aforementioned reasons. Finley is a great fishing stream and a wonderful resource, but it's effectively being cut off from the community due to lack of access.

It would be highly controversial, but I would support the use of eminent domain for the MDC to purchase access points to our streams at fair market value. This would apply only to access points that are already developed and have historically been open to the community. The courts have ruled that Missouri's waterways belong to the public. The question is, "How do we get to them?"