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The Meramec River Is A True Canoer's River

Dec 25, 2007
The Meramec River is the longest free-flowing waterway in Missouri -- it wanders some 350 kilometers (220 miles) through six Missouri Ozark Highland counties: Dent, Phelps, Crawford, Franklin, Jefferson, and St. Louis, before it empties into the Mississippi River at Arnold, Missouri. Between the mouth and its source, it falls 313 meters (1,025 feet).

The Meramec watershed covers portions of eight additional counties -- Maries, Gasconade, Iron, Washington, Reynolds, St. Francois, Ste. Genevieve, and Texas -- totaling approximately 10,300 square kilometers (3,980 square miles). Year-round navigability begins at the confluence of Dry Fork and the Maramec Spring branch just south of St. James, and continues until the river enters the Mississippi at Arnold, Missouri.

Numerous trails travel along the river and up over the bluffs giving the hiker a glimpse of ducks, herons, beavers and other species of wildlife that may be seen along the river.

The river was listed at one time as one of the most polluted rivers in Missouri. Local and state government along the river have taken tremendous steps in cleaning it up. Today the river is one of the most diverse waters in Missouri.

The river is plentiful in; black crappie, channel catfish, flathead catfish, largemouth bass, paddlefish, rainbow trout, rock bass, smallmouth bass, walleye, white crappie, and some of the richest mussel beds in the state. The endangered Ozark Hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis bishopi) also lives in the river.

The free-flowing Meramec River narrowly avoided having several dams built on it by the Corps of Engineers. Congress authorized several large dams in the upper Mississippi and Meramec river basins in 1938 following severe flooding in both 1927 and 1937.

The war intervened, plans were delayed and altered, but the Meramec Basin Project finally started moving forward in the 1960s. The main dam was to be at Sullivan, Missouri, at Meramec State Park, with several additional dams upstream.

However, these plans ran into opposition from the growing environmental movement of the 1960s and 1970s, as well as from recreational users of the free-flowing Meramec. The failure of the Teton Dam in 1976 increased the public's doubt about the wisdom of the project.

Grass-roots opposition forced politicians originally in favor of the project to reconsider. At the request of Sens. Jack Danforth and Tom Eagleton, Missouri Gov. Kit Bond allowed a non-binding referendum to be put on ballots in twelve surrounding counties, and on August 8, 1978, sixty-four percent of the voters rejected the dam proposal. The referendum carried no legal weight but caused Congress to reconsider. Under President

Jimmy Carter, funding was removed from the project, and in 1981, President Ronald Reagan signed the bill finally de-authorizing the project. This was the first time that a Corps of Engineers project was stopped once construction had already begun, and marked a major victory for the American environmental movement.
About the Author
Joe Camarda loves camping, fishing, boating, canoeing and rafting with his family.
His favorite spot is the Meramac River.
His favorite camping source: http://www.greenscanoerental.com
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