Opening new bridge is great, closing access isn’t
While we welcome the opening of the new James Bridge over the North Fork of the White River, we must take considerable exception to denying individuals the right of access to the river at that long-used site.
For as long as roads have been constructed and bridges built, the public has had and used such publicly owned sites to access the waters. These landmarks conform with Scripture, notably Proverbs 23:10, and the public’s right of access is implicit in the case of Moore v. Moore (337 S.W. 2d 781, 1960), where Judge Justin Ruark took judicial note of the “Four Freedoms” of the James River in Stone County.
The right to fish is meaningless without access. But access also includes those who just want to sit on a gravel bar of an Ozark stream and revel in the gentle beauties of nature.
We assume it was an oversight on the part of the Missouri Department of Transportation to close access at the new bridge, but it is one that needs to be corrected. That is why we have county commissioners.
Some private land could be purchased, if necessary, and it is incumbent upon the county commissioners to get either MODOT or the Missouri Department of Conservation to take the necessary steps immediately.
Michael B. Dougan