National Park Service seeks public input
The National Park Service (NPS) announced on Jan. 5 the organization is “soliciting public input by March 7, on proposed amendments to the special regulations for motorized vessels within Ozark National Scenic Riverways. The proposed changes would create seasonal non-motorized zones, legalize the use of 60/40 horsepower (HP) motors with jet propulsion and establish a 150 HP limit for motors below Big Spring on Current River.”
The press release further stated, “These proposed changes were included in the park’s General Management Plan as part of the Preferred Alternative. The General Management Plan was finalized in 2015 after a long public planning process. The NPS is seeking to amend the special regulation at 36 CFR 7.83 to implement these proposals. Members of the public are invited to comment on the proposed rule until March 7.
Seasonal non-motorized zones
The NPS proposes to create seasonal non-motorized zones along the upper stretches of the Current and Jacks Fork rivers where low water levels during the peak season typically restrict access for motorboats. These zones would provide areas without conflict between motorized and non-motorized users during peak visitor season, when it can be challenging for non-motorized vessels and motorboats to navigate narrow river channels at the same time. Peak visitor season usually begins the day after the last day of trapping season and end the day before gigging season, which would currently be April 1- Sept. 14.
60/40 HP motors
The rule would allow the use of the 60/40 HP jet propulsion systems that are most popular with motorboat users today. Under existing regulations for motorized vessels within Ozark National Scenic Riverways, the 60/40 HP motors are not legal because they exceed 40 HP at the powerhead. The rule would allow the use of these motors and clarify HP limits at the powerhead for both motors with jet propulsion units and motors with propellers, which produce differing horsepower outputs.
150 HP limit
The NPS proposes a 150 HP limit for motors equipped with jet propulsion and 105 HP limit for motors with a propeller on the Current River between Big Spring and the southern boundary of the park. These limits were proposed to address visitor concerns about safety, degradation of experience and increasing boat sizes resulting from no limits on boat motor size.
How to comment
Members of the public may submit comments on the proposed rule, identified with the Regulation Identifier Number (RIN) 1024-AE62, through March 7, by one of the following methods:
1. Online: http://www.regulations.gov. In the search box, enter 1024-AE62. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
2. Submit hard copy by U.S. Mail or hand deliver to: Superintendent, Ozark National Scenic Riverways, 404 Watercress Drive, P.O. Box 490, Van Buren, MO 63965
Only comments submitted online through the Regulations.gov site or by hardcopy will be accepted. All comments, including the personal information accompanying the comments, will be posted on http://www.regulations.gov. All submissions received must include the words “National Park Service” or “NPS” and must include the docket number or RIN 1024-AE62.”