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River Talk: Exploring Hootentown

STONE COUNTY, Mo. -- It's a foggy morning on the James River. We're with Joe Pitts from the James River Basin Partnership and we're exploring Hootentown, one of the more popular put-in spots.
STONE COUNTY, Mo. -- It's a foggy morning on the James River. KOLR10's Brett Martin is with Joe Pitts from the James River Basin Partnership.

 Brett: Where are we at on the river right now?

Joe Pitts/James River Basin Partnership: Just downstream from us from where we put the canoe in is called the Hootentown public access.

Brett: And this right here, this is a well used area. It's a recreational area. A lot of people they float this from Sheldon Rock to here.

Joe Pitts/James River Basin Partnership: It's kind of unique on the river. It's a terminus for upstream floaters and a beginning point for those floating on down.

Brett: What makes a good recreational stream?

Joe Pitts/James River Basin Partnership: What you need for a good recreational stream is good fishing, clear, relatively clear water, clean water, and passages through not choked with brush, wide enough to let people out on the river, and in that perspective it's sort of like the old saying "If you build it they will come." If the river has those aspects as you've seen this morning there will be people out at all times of the day using the river.

Brett: What are some of the recreational uses that you can get on the river?

Joe Pitts/James River Basin Partnership: On the James River in particular, and down here lower, also, fishing is premier. It's a legendary small mouth bass stream. The other thing is, it's a very good float stream. A lot of people talk about the Current, the Eleven Point, and stuff like that, all of them remarkably good rivers, but the James River is so close to Springfield and it is, I think, underused. Recreationally, there was a formula developed for figuring out the value of a day spent doing like canoeing or fishing or swimming or whatever along the river and the total value in 2009 was calculated for the James River Basin, was $900 million. You have a dollar spent in the local economy that it will turn over three times within the local economy, so if you do that math, $900 million, based on those 2009 numbers, means there's about $2.7 billion in economic activity generated here in the basin.

Brett:  If you wanted to fish the James, from here down is probably your better fishing as opposed to the upper end.

Joe Pitts/James River Basin Partnership: I wouldn't use the term better, what I'll use is, the farther down the wider the river, the deeper the pools, you get into some bigger fish. But the same species of fish are all the way up, and a small mouth this long can give you just as much bite as a big mouth bass this long. And there's catfish in here, small mouth bass, large mouth bass, blue gill, goggle-eye. In the spring the goggle-eye nest on the rocks and all that. If you can drift a canoe over and catch goggle-eye all day long if you want to.

Joe Pitts/James River Basin Partnership: The point is we all have an impact on the ability to do that. Whether we fish, whether we boat, whether we just come and play in the river, if we don't do things in the watershed that are water-friendly, then we eliminate the ability to use that resource.

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