If you’ve been out to Castlewood State Park recently, you may have noticed some significant construction near the boat ramp and sandy area. Last week, we met with Missouri Department of Natural Resource & Missouri State Park’s employees to get the scoop on the current updates to the park.
In the last 15 years, the Meramec River directly abutting the Castlewood State Park beach has been the site of several drownings. Despite an increase in signage and public outreach over the last decade, incidents continue to occur, mostly linked to individuals who are not strong swimmers. Missouri State Parks has been working to determine how to ensure safety of all future park users. To this end, State Parks employees decided to remove the existing boat ramp and to allow the beach area’s natural vegetation to grow, hoping that it will discourage use along what they consider a potentially dangerous section of the Meramec River.
In March of this year, Castlewood State Park began deconstruction of the existing boat ramp; due to its age and condition, the ramp was primarily used for non-motorized boat recreation. In it’s place, Missouri State Parks will add a small trail that will connect from the existing parking lot down to the river. People wishing to canoe and kayak will be able to access the river in approximately the same location as in the past and will pass through a small opening in the fence and carry their boat down a small natural trail to the river. This trail will be maintained for river users.
The sandy area, located near the boat ramp, adjoins the site of the river where many of the drownings have taken place. It has historically been a common gathering area for many park users and swimmers. This year, park employees hope that by having less inviting access to the area, natural vegetation will grow and further discourage individuals from accessing this particular portion of the river. In an effort to educate the public about the potential dangers of this portion of the river, State Parks is installing new signage, in English and Spanish, clearly highlighting the dangers of swimming on this stretch of the Meramec.
Emergency Fire and Rescue Departments will access the Meramec through a newly created gated road, which will be locked and only available to park staff and emergency responders.
Additionally a new fence, seen in the image at left, is being constructed throughout this area to ensure that newly planted riparian restoration efforts thrive. Riparian is the term for the interface between land and a river or as many refer to it, the river banks. These efforts are geared at decreasing erosion, enhancing water quality, and providing important unique habitat.
We want to thank Missouri State Park Staff for taking time to walk us thru the site and to help us share the story of these new upgrades.
If you have additional questions about Castlewood State Park, we encourage you to visit their website. The park office can be contacted at (636) 227-4433.