MDC breaks ground on new stream access in Phelps County

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ROLLA, Mo. – In recent years, the Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) Jerome Access has been associated more with flooding than with fishing and floating. At its new location, it’s hoped this access will once again be known for what it was meant to be – a scenic entry point to the beautiful Gasconade River.

On Tuesday, Feb. 21, ground was broken on a new site for Jerome Access, which is located in Phelps County, approximately 15 miles west of Rolla. The main components of the new site will be a paved parking lot with ADA accessible parking spaces, a half-acre gravel parking area that will feature approximately 20 truck/trailer stalls, and a concrete boat ramp that will provide entry to the Gasconade. The two-acre site will also feature opportunities for bank fishing. The contract on the nearly $700,000 project has been awarded to Twehous Excavating Company, Inc. Construction is slated to be completed in middle to late summer, depending on weather.

The new Jerome Access is at the confluence of Little Piney Creek and the Gasconade and is slightly more than a mile south of the former access of the same name. The old Jerome Access has been closed to the public since a weather event the National Center for Environmental Information termed a “once in a millennium rainfall” caused severe flood damage at the site in 2017.

However, the 2017 deluge isn’t the only time the former access had been damaged by high water. In 2013 and 2015, Jerome Access also was closed for extended periods of time due to flooding events that wrecked the access.

“The major flood events in 2013, 2015, and 2017 changed site conditions at the former Jerome Access to the extent that continued maintenance to sustain safe use by the public was not practical,” said MDC Infrastructure Management Branch Chief Jacob Careaga. “After much discussion, the decision was made to look for a new site that would provide the public with long-term, reliable access to the Gasconade River.”

Though the new Jerome Access isn’t far from its former location, it’s hoped that the new site will be less prone to flood events. Approximately 60 percent of the new site is above the FEMA-established 100-year flood plain. As a contrast, nearly 100 percent of the old site was within the flood plain.

Though all MDC stream access sites have characteristics which give each one uniqueness and value, there are several reasons why Jerome Access definitely falls into the category of “not just another stream access.” It provides entry to the Gasconade River, which has the reputation of being one of the world’s crookedest rivers. Rather than being a detriment, however, the Gasconade’s twists and turns are revered by those who float and fish this approximately 280-mile river. One highlight of the new Jerome Access site is its proximity to MDC’s smallmouth bass management zone on the Gasconade. This special management zone stretches from the Highway Y Bridge in Pulaski County to the Highway D Bridge in Phelps County, a location that’s adjacent to the new site. The new access is located in a portion of the Gasconade that’s also has good opportunities to catch popular species such as goggle-eye, catfish, and suckers.

In addition to these recreational fishing activities, the old Jerome Access was also the site of several bass tournaments, an annual gigging tournament, and the annual Gasconade River Race – an annual canoe and kayak event.

“MDC looks forward to all these events being reestablished at the new access and we’d like to thank everyone for their patience throughout this process,” said MDC Project Engineer Jacob Novak.

People wanting information on other MDC accesses and fishing opportunities on the Gasconade River or elsewhere in the state can visit