After seeking public input, Fish Wildlife and Parks met with the Headwaters Advisory Board to review the Missouri Headwaters State Park master plan on Friday.
Members of the advisory board and the public shared their thoughts on future development in the state park.
Missouri Headwaters State Park is 532 acres of land dedicated to preserving cultural and historical landmarks while providing recreational opportunities for visitors.
Though many associate the area with the Lewis and Clark Expedition, Native American tribes used the land in and around the park for hunting, gathering and fishing centuries before the famous duo arrived.
While visitation of the park continues to increase, the public made it clear that it is more important to preserve and maintain the cultural and historical heritage of the area rather than develop it.
Marsha Small, a cultural preservationist and member of the Headwaters Advisory Board, encouraged FWP to update existing signage using accurate Native American history. She even suggested renaming the park (or areas within the park) to reflect the area’s native heritage.
Small also suggested that each tribe select a spokesperson to comment on FWP’s master plan for Missouri Headwaters State Park. Another advisory board member, Sara Scott, recommended that FWP make ongoing efforts to include tribal members in park discussions.
Many comments made by advisory board staff and the public focused on developing the park as little as possible.
“Keep what we have out there and make it better,” Gene Townsend said on behalf of the Three Forks City Council.
While many were against developing, there was some discussion about responsible growth in the park.
Potential developments discussed at the meeting included a visitors center, more camping sites, and a disc golf course.
Ron Pannesi, a member of the Headwaters Disc Golf Club, spoke in favor of adding a course to the state park.
According to Pannesi, disc golf courses have minimal impact on the land. He said the course would give visitors a new way to enjoy Missouri Headwaters State Park.
Alec Humphries, another disc golfer, said that local disc golfers care about preserving the land.
Humphries and Pannesi agreed that a disc golf course would attract more visitors. Because disc golf is an inexpensive sport, even low-income families can enjoy it.
“I’d like to see it (disc golf) grow in a sustainable way,” Humpries said.
Fish Wildlife and Parks will review the current Master Plan draft and consider the comments made by the public and advisory board members before publishing the final draft in the next two weeks.
FWP officials emphasized that the master plan is not the be all end all script for Missouri Headwaters State Park. They will continue speaking with the public before implementing any significant projects.
“The finalization of the master plan is not the end of the conversation,” Hope Stockwell, a member of FWP, said.