New platforms improve accessibility at Bennett Spring

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Two new fishing platforms will make it easier for even more anglers to take part in the trout fishing fun at Bennett Spring State Park this year.

At Friday’s trout opener, anglers who like to fish at the dam in Bennett Spring’s Zone 2 will find newly constructed fishing areas on each side of the stream at the park’s ever-popular (and much-photographed) dam. On the east side of the stream just below the dam is a disability accessible fishing platform complemented with a disability-accessible sidewalk and parking area. Directly across the stream from this site on the stream’s west side is another new fishing platform.

The Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation raised more than $60,000 from private donors for this project. The project is a joint effort of the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

Increasing accessibility to this state’s outdoor resources for hunters, anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts is an ongoing mission of MDC. In addition to increasing angler accessibility, these renovations also fixed an erosion problem that was a growing safety concern at the trout park. Prior to the ramps’ construction, stream flow was cutting into the vertical banks at that location and creating a growing safety concern at a spot that is a popular perch for anglers and other park visitors.

“The Bennett Spring Stream Management Team identified concerns at these areas due to erosion,” said MDC Bennett Spring Hatchery Manager Mike Mitchell. “The need to stabilize both banks provided an opportunity to enhance stream access in Zone 2. Bennett is divided into three fishing zones,”

Mitchell explained the structure on the west side of the stream provides safer access to the stream while maintaining access to the skirt of the dam – a popular place to fish at the park. On the other side of the stream – the east side – the platform provides disabled anglers access to an area that had previously been inaccessible.

“Projects such as these benefit anglers by increasing safety while combining additional access to meet demands of all anglers at Bennett Spring,” Mitchell said.

Besides the new site, Bennett has six additional disability-accessible fishing sites situated throughout the park.

Bennett Spring’s new fishing platform is an example of how MDC helps people discover nature and makes Missouri a great place to fish. Missouri trout fishing also exemplifies how conservation pays by enriching our economy. Studies show trout fishing generates more than $100 million in angler expenditures. These expenditures, in turn, generate more than $200 million of business activity, support more than 2,000 jobs and create more than $50 million in wages.