LESTERVILLE, Mo. (AP/KSDK) -- The southest Missouri state park that was badly damaged when a hydroelectric plant reservoir broke in December will reopen, with many restrictions, for the start of the tourism season.
The Missouri Department of Natural Resources plans to open Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park May 27th. It will be open for day-use only through the fall. Swimming and camping will be prohibited.
No one was killed in the reservoir breach, but the park was left covered in thick silt and clay. Ameren is paying for cleanup.
Visitors will be able to view the damage caused when Ameren Corporation's Taum Sauk hydroelectric plant gave way. Following the breach, 1.3 billion gallons of water swept down Proffit Mountain into the park, sweeping away everything in its path and leaving behind piles of trees 15 feet high and silt up to 6 feet deep.
Many of the park facilities, including the campground, were destroyed.
Cleanup began immediately and, as of May 6, more than 14,800 truck loads of tree debris, mulch, silt, rebar/concrete and rock had been removed from the park. Roads have been repaired, and areas have been reseeded.
This summer's experience will be focused on letting visitors see what happened at the park, interpreting its impact and explaining the recovery efforts. Interpretive panels at various locations throughout the park and a driving tour with an accompanying brochure explain the efforts.
A one-half-mile interpretive trail has been developed through an area known as the boulder field because it is where many of the larger boulders from Proffit Mountain came to rest. Department of Natural Resources staff will be available to give guided tours as well.
Other day-use facilities include picnic tables, flush toilets and drinking water and the park store. There is no camping available this year.
One thing that has not changed dramatically is the shut-ins. The boardwalk to the shut-ins was damaged, and some debris filled the shut-ins.
The boardwalk has been repaired so people can once again walk to the shut-ins and view them. Until the cleanup has been completed, people will not be allowed in the shut-ins or any portion of the East Fork of the Black River through the park because of safety reasons.
The Goggins Mountain equestrian trail and trailhead were not affected by the flood and remain open to the public.
Another project that is ongoing is the restoration of the portion of the East Fork of the Black River that runs through Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park.
The stream above the shut-ins was significantly impacted by the flood, which filled it with sand and boulders and blocked the channel with a large rock dam.
Work on the restoration will be ongoing this summer and should be completed sometime this fall. Because of the construction in progress, the stream will not be open to the public this year.
For this season, through early fall, the park will be open from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. daily.
Also available in the area are other state parks and historic sites, including:
Taum Sauk Mountain State Park near Ironton
Fort Davidson State Historic Site at Pilot Knob
Elephant Rocks State Park near Belleview