Submit Your Comment: Eleven Point State Park Development Plan

In 2016, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MoDNR) bought over 4,000 acres of scenic land along the Eleven Point River in Oregon County. Their stated plan was to build a new state park, however this became increasingly complicated due to the history of this park’s development.

For context, the American Smelting and Refining Company (ASARCO) was a lead miner and smelting operation out of Southeast Missouri. Back in 2008, a combination of bankruptcy troubles and EPA Superfund cleanup status spurred a lengthy legal battle that resulted in a large settlement. 

ASARCO formally declared bankruptcy, and a large fund of their assets was split up into two categories. Firstly, their money would have to go towards environmental cleanup and remediation of the areas they polluted with lead. Secondly, courts dictated that funds must be provided to preserve and protect an area of equivalent value to what was destroyed. With this ruling, there was no specification that the land be immediately nearby. This money ended up in MoDNR’s hands, and they used it to purchase the land for Eleven Point State Park.

The park’s path from this purchase to development and opening to the public faced a major roadblock. An eastern portion of the park comprising 625 acres lies within a scenic easement which restricts development that would alter the outstanding river qualities. Neighboring landowners argued that easement is at odds with the purposes of the park, this became the basis for the lawsuit. A legal battle followed that ensued until just last Fall. While the state of Missouri lost in lower court, allowing these landowners to block the state park, they were victorious with their case in the higher court. The Missouri Supreme Court determined that the purposes of the state park are in accordance with the scenic easement protections, and both can coexist on the land.  Now, in 2022 and 2023, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources finally gained the green light to start planning and developing the infrastructure for a new state park! 

This process relies heavily on a Conceptual Development Plan. This document will be drafted with input from citizens like us from a survey that is currently open to the public. On the Missouri State Parks’ website, you can fill out a form to make sure your preferences will be included in our newest state park!

The form includes options and questions to help shape this park in the image of what we as Missourians want to see. It also includes a question about highlighting the unique history of the park. It is important that any and all park developments are consistent with and protective of the integrity of the preexisting federal scenic easements.

This form asks about educational opportunities for Indigenous and European human impact on the area and the natural flora and fauna. Make sure to include what kinds of lodging and camping infrastructure you want to see and your preferences on the types of outdoor activities that infrastructures could be built for. 

The Sierra Club stance on constructing a boat dock, a lodge or additional roads would be a strong no, as some of this would infringe upon the scenic easement and we are making our voices heard in support of minimal building in the park. On the contrary, our stance for new hiking trails, bird watching and basic camping is always a big yes! Let's allow the natural aspect of this park to shine without overdevelopment.

A group of hikers are walking away from the camera, on a path surrounded by green grass and tall trees at Eleven Point State Park.

Vehicular access to the river is conveniently provided by the Forest Service just upstream of the park, at the Highway 160 bridge at Riverton, and just downstream at the Highway 142 bridge at the Narrows. This places the park in a strategic position of providing optimal interpretation of the Scenic River, a convenient staging location for planning visits to the river, and a unique opportunity to partner with the federal agency in planning the security of the resource over the long term.

Given this context, the best approach to the planning for this park will be very low key in terms of development, with perhaps basic camping, picnicking, foot trails, and interpretation, all located well away from the river itself. There is ample and attractive space for such development in the western area of the park .

This park is not the place for more intensive park developments such as lodging, electrical hookups, dining, bike trails, or other activities that compete with the scenic river environment. The park landscape lends itself to rich opportunities for interpretation and orientation. Key interpretive themes include:

  • the Scenic River nearby, and how to enjoy and protect it.

  • the beautiful and significant landscape of the Eleven Point watershed hills and rolling uplands, which include topography and species not represented elsewhere in the state park system.

  • the ranch complex itself, including two remarkable structures: the headquarters building and a very large vintage barn structure.

  • the high quality dark sky resource, in one of the best remaining areas of our state to experience this diminishing resource.

  • the Native American history of the area, which is rich and complex.

  • the 1964 visit to the site by the Beatles.

This conceptual development process relies on the input and the voices of ALL OF US! Take action and share the form with everyone you know so that we can get the input needed to make sure the development of this park will be a success and a place we can all go to explore, enjoy and continue to protect nature!

MoDNR’s Conceptual Development Plan survey can be filled out here. Also, the Sierra Club Missouri Chapter asks that you fill out our form about the park’s development here so that we can keep track of what Missourians want to see and that we can fight for their inclusion in the finalized development plan.