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PNS Daily Newscast - November 19, 2018. 


More than 1,200 missing in the California wildfires. Also on the Monday rundown: A pair of reports on gun violence in the nation; and concerns that proposed changes to 'Green Card' rules favor the wealthy.

Daily Newscasts

Environmental Groups Fight Development Along Missouri River Bluffs

After fulfilling a stipulation that the land be used only for research for 20 years, the University of Missouri gained the right to sell part of Missouri Bluffs that environmental groups want to preserve. (Twenty20/All Things)
After fulfilling a stipulation that the land be used only for research for 20 years, the University of Missouri gained the right to sell part of Missouri Bluffs that environmental groups want to preserve. (Twenty20/All Things)
June 22, 2018

WELDON SPRING, Mo. – The University of Missouri is caught in a tug-of-war between a developer and environmental groups wanting to preserve 400 acres of what they call ecologically fragile land.

The university bought the forested land known as the Missouri River bluffs near Weldon Spring for a dollar from the federal government in 1948. It's been trying to sell it but has encountered several roadblocks from neighbors and conservationists.

Even the Legislature once blocked the university from selling parts of the tract. But Peter Raven, who is president emeritus of Missouri Botanical Garden and a former member of University of Missouri's Board of Curators, says while he hopes the St. Charles County planning and zoning commission restricts the development, he understands the university's position.

"If developed, it should have been or should be developed very carefully to help it to melt in with the nature around it,” says Raven. “Otherwise as we have sprawled out, we will find out we have just ruined a lot of beautiful land."

So far, the commission has voted against a rezoning petition by Greg Whittaker, owner of NT Home Builders, who insists he will take steps to preserve much of the forested, hilly terrain of the area. If the land purchase goes through, Whitaker will build 350 housing units on the edge of the Missouri Bluffs Golf Course.

The ongoing controversy has caused a prominent member of the Missouri 100, an influential group of donors to the university, to resign in protest. Opponents claim the university didn't open a public bid or give environmental groups a chance to purchase and preserve the land.

Raven says at this point he doesn't think it's feasible or logical to stop the sale.

"All I know is that it's both feasible and logical to develop the land very carefully if it is going to be developed,” says Raven. “It's also logical that the University of Missouri doesn't have to own it forever."

The development plans need support from five of the seven St. Charles County Council members to pass. But it continues to face opposition from the Missouri chapter of the Sierra Club, Trailnet and other groups concerned that it will ruin the experience of people using the nearby Katy Trail State Park, a bicycle and hiking route that nearly crosses the entire state.

Trimmel Gomes, Public News Service - MO