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River accesses remain closed months after floods

The Missouri Department of Conservation said it is still working on Maries County's Paydown Access, damaged in this spring's floods. (Garrett Bergquist)

Maries County Sheriff Chris Heitman on Wednesday said a still-closed river access has been a headache for his boat operations.

The Paydown Access, located about halfway between Freeburg and Vienna, is one of four public river accesses that remain closed due to damage from this spring's floods. Maintenance crews have yet to replace the boat ramp or a destroyed outhouse, though crews have replaced the gravel road leading to the access. The Department of Conservation said more than 184 accesses and conservation areas statewide were damaged this spring. Four of them remain closed.

Heitman said the closed access forced his deputies to launch their boat elsewhere this summer when they searched for a missing intoxicated boater. There is a private launch nearby, but Heitman said there are no public accesses within 10 miles.

"When we need it, we need it," he said. "Hopefully they'll get it repaired soon."

According to the Department of Conservation, the other closed accesses are the Warren Bridge Access on the White River and the Cook Access on Bryant Creek, both in Ozark County, and the Jerome Access on the Gasconade River in Phelps County. Oregon County's Myrtle Access is open but the boat ramp remains closed.

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