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Voters Asked to Protect Missouri's Parks and Drinking Water

During the Dust Bowl years Missouri had the highest rate of soil erosion in the nation. (Missouri.gov)
During the Dust Bowl years Missouri had the highest rate of soil erosion in the nation. (Missouri.gov)
June 13, 2016

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Advocates say all Missourians benefit from a tax that's been around since the 1980s.

Back then, voters approved a one-tenth of one percent tax that is split between the Soil and Water Conservation District and the state park system.

Last month Gov. Jay Nixon set the November general election as the date for a vote to renew it.

Missouri Department of Natural Resources director Sara Parker Pauley says it's crucial to the state for agriculture, tourism and most importantly clean drinking water.

"We know more than half of our Missouri citizens get their drinking water from our major rivers, the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers," she says. "Keeping soil on our land also benefits water quality."

Parker Pauley says during the Dust Bowl years, America lost 300 million tons of soil, with Missouri having the highest erosion rate.

As of late as 1982, Missouri was still losing 10.8 tons of soil per acre of crop land.

Darrick Steen, Environmental Director for both the Missouri Corn Growers and Soybean Associations, says farmers are always trying to come up with better ways to keep the soil and nutrients in the ground.

"They're at the mercy of Mother Nature, they're at the mercy of the weather," Steen says. "That has to be taken into consideration and farmers have to manage around the types of rain events that we get which, of course, lately have been more intense with larger amounts of rain per rainfall event which makes things challenging."

The tax is a constitutional amendment that has be be renewed by Missouri voters every 10 years.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MO