What’s next for the still-closed Ozark Mountain State Park near Branson?
Eight options for improvements at the park will be presented for the public to see and comment on at a 5:30 p.m. meeting Thursday.
The meeting will be at the Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau located at 4100 Gretna Road in Branson. It will also be accessible live on the Missouri State Parks’ Facebook page beginning at 5:30 p.m.
Ryan Dunwoody, planning section chief for Missouri State Parks, said the eight options that will be presented, including showing them on a map, are:
- A day-use area, with parking;
- A connector trail to nearby Henning Conservation Area;
- A footbridge to take visitors over Roark Creek;
- Hiking-only trails, with backpacking overnight allowed throughout the park;
- Highlighting cultural and natural resources throughout the park;
- Demolishing nonsignificant structures and protecting significant structures, like the one-room schoolhouse;
- A special-use camping area for larger groups, like Scouts, with primitive tent camping only;
- An overlook on one of the higher bald knobs, with benches and interpretive signage about the park.
“There will be no horseback riding or mountain biking,” Dunwoody said. “The reason is that the trails connect to Henning Conservation Area, which is hiking only.”
Dunwoody said Missouri State Parks will take public comments about the proposed improvements to the 1,011-acre state park in Taney County and come up with a final plan that will be presented at a third public meeting. Then another review will happen before the final plan goes to the state parks director for approval.
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A map showing the locations of the proposed improvements will be available online at the Missouri State Parks Facebook page. Go to “find your park,” click on Ozark Mountain State Park, and look for the tab on the right side with CDP survey.
A 30-day comment period will begin on Nov. 13, with a survey available online at https://mostateparks.com/park/ozark-mountain-state-park.
The planning process and final plan could be completed by next spring, but it remains unclear when the park improvements could be completed and the park open to the public.
Ozark Mountain State Park has several high knobs, glades, hardwood forest, a creek and a small pond on the property. There also are several buildings, including a long-closed one-room schoolhouse.
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At Thursday’s meeting, the public is strongly encouraged to follow social-distancing guidelines and be proactive in protecting themselves and others amid ongoing public health concerns.
Come prepared with hand sanitizer and bottled water, avoid large and congested crowds, and please stay home if sick.
Face coverings are encouraged when social-distancing measures are difficult to maintain and may be required by local orders.
Ozark Mountain State Park is located at 4424 Sycamore Church Road, Branson.