By Larry Dablemont
I believe that we all should give maximum effort to leaving the outdoors and the world around us as natural and as clean as possible. Why are there so many who just don’t seem to give a darn? One of the most disgusting things I have ever seen at an Ozark Lake is at the launching ramp on Truman Lake at a site known as Fairfield. The history of that place is interesting.
The lake covered a small, old-days village by that name, a few buildings and a post office. There is a campground and small store north of the boat ramp about a mile. There are several summer homes and likely two-dozen permanent camper-vehicles there and the campground owner has a place to clean fish there.
Each day someone with all those fish cleanings comes down and dumps them at the ramp. It stinks something terrible in the summer, and as the water drops, you actually step on dead and rotting fish carcasses when you get out of your pickup to launch or load your boat. All around there are buzzards feeding on those decomposing fish carcasses, entrails and skins and flies. There were 18 there last week. I kind of wonder, why does the Corps of Engineers permit this?
Last week I was there in the late evening when the guy arrived in a pick-up to dump two or three buckets of guts and carcasses. He backed his pickup down to the end of the ramp and emptied them. I asked him why and he told me he was doing it for the campground owner. He said he did it every day when the people living at the campground clean their fish at the owners designated fish cleaning station. It makes a mess at the campground; therefore it has to be dumped in the lake.
Of course, all that needs to be done to keep the launching ramp clean is for someone to take those buckets of dead fish out a half-mile into the lake to dump the carcasses each evening in a boat, where they would sink and be eaten by scavenger fish. Either it is just too much trouble or maybe the campers there like the stink and the flies and the buzzards. But someone is opening themselves up to a lawsuit from someone who wants to make lots of money. This isn’t just a health hazard. Last week I saw a man get out of his pickup to launch his boat and he slipped and fell. What made him slip? A rotting fish carcass twenty feet up the ramp! With me and others as a witness, all he has to do is find a lawyer.
The campground owner says he has nothing to do with this, that the dumper who says he does that for him is lying. It would be easy for the Corps to find out who is responsible, who is lying and who isn’t. A retired Corps of Engineers Ranger I once hunted and fished with doubts what I am writing here, saying that one of the Rangers for the Corps says it happens at lots of launching ramps. I am doubting that. I challenge the Corps to show me photos at any ramp that comes anywhere close to that mess at Fairfield. I have been to lots of launching ramps and I do not see that on any scale close to this. Instead of thanking me for pointing out a problem, they’ll be mad at me for this column, like that old friend of mine saying I am basically uninformed. I don’t think they will want to do anything about it, from what I am told, because their offices are many many miles away and the problem is out of sight. Out of their sight…but for hundreds of fishermen who used that ramp over Memorial Day, it was a part of their experience at Truman Lake, and no one should have to put up with it.
While the campground owner denies he knows anything about this, it isn’t something that results from a few fishermen cleaning fish at the ramp. It is a wonder is that there are such people in this world who would do this, whoever it is to blame.
As to the Corps of Engineers, they have a regulation that walking their shore and finding an arrowhead is unlawful. They aren’t going to enforce that, but if you get caught by a Ranger out on the lakeshore with a metal detector and you are going to hear about it. Apparently there is no law against piling up fish carcasses night after night at a Corps boat ramp. What would make them do something to find answers and end the slime and rot and stench at the Fairfield launching ramp? Right now you can stand at the ramp and count 50 or 60 carcasses. They should either erect a sign saying…”Do not dump fish here.” Or maybe… “Do not dump more than 100 fish carcasses and entrails here at one time!”
If this bothers you as much as me… please send this column to the address of any Corps office you can find. First, see the photos I have taken. Go to larrydablemontoutdoors.blogspot.com, or to my website, www.larrydablemont.com.
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