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Missouri Ozarks in need of more protection

The Missouri Ozarks is a region of vast beauty, but unfortunately it is burdened by abuse by people who misuse the land in a variety of hideous ways. If you need a list of some of the ways, refer to this June 9, 2015 article about vandalsim in the Pioneer Forest. They include grafiti painted on cliffs, ATV useage in areas not permitted, poaching of wildlife, release of feral hogs, and much more.

These examples are particularly heinous as they have been occuring on land owned by the late Leo Drey's foundation - it is private land. My Drey's foundation has permitted public use of his land in the Pioneer Forest, but obviously, that status has been put in jeopardy.

I can speak from personal experience, that the misbehavior in the Ozarks comes from locals and non-locals alike. On the rivers, drunken city folks are a common problem. When we hunt during the Fall, a common problem is locals running deer with dogs. ATV's tearing up sensitive land is a problem everywhere in the Ozarks.

On the local front, the prevalent sentiment is that they should be able to do whatever the hell they want in "their" area... and apparently they consider all the Ozarks their land. Anyone who owns land in the Ozarks that they visit infrequently has trouble with tresspassers, thieves, and vandals. The law in this part of the state regards violations of these types of private property rights with a wink and a smile.

Even worse is the lack of regard locally for public land...Missouri Department of Conservation areas, National Forest, Ozark National Scenic Riverways, etc. In conversations I have had with locals, the feeling is that the government just wants to completely shut things down as far as access goes. Sorry folks, but being told you cannot drive your ATV's through the rivers, or hunt with dogs, or run jet boats with hundred horse motors on the rivers does not mean you do not have access.

To insure access for all stakeholders in a manner that is acceptable to all, laws must be enforced. Private citizens must blow the whistle when they observe violations.

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