Outdoor/nature research sometimes must be interrupted by efforts to preserve the environment, such was the case on my recent float trip to the Ozark National Scenic Riverways. On the August day my research was taking place, several empty plastic water bottles were discarded and left in the crevices of the boulders of Rocky Falls. It’s not that big of a hassle to clean up after others, but it’s disappointing to see a natural place of such beauty disrespected.
Rocky Falls is located about nine miles southeast of the Missouri river town of Eminence and the water flowing down the falls eventually finds its way to the Current River located several miles away. The scenic spot was a hidden treasure for years, but better access and parking has increased its popularity.
The flow of water at Rocky Falls is generally reduced to a trickle in the normally dry summers of Missouri. However, frequent rains in summer 2015 caused tens of thousands of gallons of water to find various channels through a maze of craggy rocks. It’s a beautiful and extraordinary place to visit, but we all must recognize that not disposing of trash properly can diminish our natural treasures and degrade wildlife habitat.
A commentary on this site is found on page 105 of my 2007 book “Show Me … Natural Wonders.” That piece describes how one day the area was literally darkened by the flight of hundreds of Valkyries. The piece is entitled “Water Witches of Rocky Falls,” observes: “it’s not the primeval beauty of earth, rock and water that has captivated me on my visits to Rocky Falls, I have been overwhelmed by the skies above, full of flying, circling, swooping Valkyries. These slender bodied jets have a multitude of nicknames, including skeeter hawks, darning needles, mosquito hawks, devil horses and water witches. They are more commonly known as dragonflies.”
Having respect for our natural places, like Rocky Falls, will allow our kids and grandkids to enjoy the gifts nature offers. It is up to us to make sure our environment is not destroyed for our children, just because we don’t want to pack an empty water bottle to the nearest trash can.