A year after flood, MDC reopens Cook’s Landing on Bryant Creek
Just in time for the spring white bass run, the Missouri Department of Conservation has reopened its Florence C. Cook Access on Bryant Creek.
The access, known locally as Cook’s Landing, has been closed since a large section of creek bank was washed away in the epic spring 2017 floods. MDC brought in boulders to block off the area where, for many years, a gravel boat ramp allowed area fisherfolk to put in canoes and shallow-bottomed watercraft. But the boat ramp area washed away repeatedly during the last nine years, requiring expensive repairs, MDC’s A. J. Pratt told the Times last week. After last spring’s flood caused more damage than ever, “Area Closed” notices soon appeared on the MDC cantilever sign near Miller’s Store on Highway 160 at County Road 305, which leads to the access.
Pratt, who serves as fisheries management biologist in MDC’s West Plains office, said the department had the boulders brought in so drivers wouldn’t inadvertently drive off the steep embankment that now interrupts the washed-away creek bank.
As time went by, MDC officials began to question whether it was worth it to restore the access yet again. So the signs stayed up and the access has remained closed since May 2017. But the area continued to attract die-hard river-goers and locals who parked near the boulders, stepped down the short embankment and crossed what remained of the gravel bar to get to the water for fishing and swimming.
Last week, MDC took down the “Area Closed” signs, officially reopening the access. No further repairs or improvements are planned, an MDC spokesman told the Times last week; the gravel boat ramp won’t be rebuilt. But those willing to walk the short distance from the unmarked parking area are welcomed back to Cook’s Landing.
The reopened access gives Bryant Creek floaters another take-out or put-in option – the last one before the creek flows into Lake Norfork a short but steady paddling distance away.
Other Ozark County public accesses on the Bryant are upstream at the Sycamore Access off Highway 181 at Hodgson Mill, and the Warren Bridge Access on County Road 328, which runs between FF and H highways. Like Cook’s Landing, the Warren Bridge access was dramatically changed by the historical flood. But floaters are adapting to the changes, Pratt said, and folks are floating the Bryant again.