By Associated Press - Saturday, September 19, 2020

WALNUT SHADE, Mo. (AP) - A southwest Missouri landowner who built a creek crossing that was blamed for three paddler drownings is in trouble with the Army Corps of Engineers over his effort to replace the structure.

The Springfield News-Leader reports that the corps told Steve Johnson that he must repair and restore some 900 feet (274.32 meters) of Bull Creek that was damaged during construction. Johnson is working with the Missouri Department of Conservation to restore the creek bed.

This is the second letter of noncompliance Johnson has received from the Corps over his effort to connect two tracts of land he owns in Taney County. After the paddler drownings, the Corps discovered that the first structure he built in 2016 failed to meet permit requirements. Two wrongful death lawsuits have been filed.

Last month, Johnson tore out the crossing and began work on an elevated concrete structure that won’t impede the creek flow the way the previous one did. But a construction company used heavy machinery to cut a deep channel in the creek downstream from the crossing, piling gravel more than 10 feet (3.05 meters) high along the sides.

The corps says the construction permit only allowed for work in the creek 100 feet (30.48 meters) upstream or downstream from the crossing.

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