Osage River closed to recreational boating

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Bagnell dam is at its flow capacity.

Bagnell dam is at its flow capacity.

Less than a week after the Offshore Powerboat Association held its annual Lake Race in Lake Ozark, Mo., where more than 50 teams from around the country competed, the Missouri State Highway patrol has announced the immediate closure of the Osage River to recreational boating traffic. The ban covers from the Missouri River to Bagnell Dam and will remain in effect until further notice.

As soon as people hear Bagnell Dam, the first thing they think of is the popular body of water, Lake of the Ozarks, but Myrick Coil, shop foreman for local dealer Performance Boat Center, told Trade Only Today that the closure is only affecting the river below the dam. “It’s basically the water that spills out of Lake of the Ozarks,” he said. “Right now we’re at 659 feet above sea level and that’s a foot below full pool.”

In a statement, Missouri Department of Public Safety director Sandy Karsten authorized the closure to recreational traffic in consult with the patrol. Personnel from the highway patrol’s water patrol division have been monitoring the river and determined that conditions in the closed area are no longer conducive to safe recreational boat operation. Hazards include strong current and excessive debris.

Strong currents present a danger because fast-moving water can capsize a vessel. The statement also said that closing this section of the river will reduce additional damage to docks and waterfront property.

Coil competed in two boats in The Lake Race and said that the racers weren’t affected by water levels or flow. “Rarely in the Osage River down where the lake gets wide do you feel much current,” he said.