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Outdoor Enthusiasts Urge Support of MO State Parks

Legislators and the leadership of the Parks Division of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources recently have suggested the sale of some of Missouri's newest state parks. (Jennifer Conner)
Legislators and the leadership of the Parks Division of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources recently have suggested the sale of some of Missouri's newest state parks. (Jennifer Conner)
December 18, 2017

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – In order to appreciate it, you've got to get out and experience it.

At least, that's what outdoor enthusiasts are encouraging people to do over the holidays in hopes of saving three state parks from possible sale.

The state's acquisition of Bryant Creek in Douglas County, Ozark Mountain in Taney County and Jay Nixon in Reynolds and Iron counties has stirred controversy, pitting environmentalists against the Republican-led legislature where some argue that the unopened parks would be too costly to develop or maintain.

However, David Casaletto, executive director of Ozarks Water Watch, says those costs will be minimal with primitive or dirt trails. He argues the beauty is in the parks.

"And once you get people outdoors and they appreciate the environment, then they are more likely to protect it on their own,” he states. “So I think these types of acquisitions like this state park is exactly what we need to enhance that outdoor experience."

Missouri State Parks Director Ben Ellis has said despite some media reports to the contrary, the department is not thinking of selling the three state parks.

However, the department is welcoming residents to share their opinions, now through Jan. 5 on the department’s website, mostateparks.com.

Susan Wiseheart, a longtime resident of the Bryant Creek watershed, has spent 28 years admiring the natural beauty of the great outdoors.

She says she was happy to see the state's effort to preserve what she's grown to love with the development of Bryant Creek State Park.

"I think it would be extremely foolish for us not to keep this park and get it open for public use in the most minimal way it can be done,” she states. “That way, we save money and we save the terrain, which is fabulously beautiful."

The three parks in question were purchased during former Gov. Jay Nixon's administration and have sat dormant during Gov. Eric Greitens' tenure.

A fourth park – Eleven Point in Oregon County – is involved in a legal challenge and state officials say it will be handled separately.

Groups such as the Sierra Club's Missouri chapter have been calling on Missourians to voice their views about the parks by submitting comments before the Jan. 5 deadline.


Trimmel Gomes, Public News Service - MO