Environment Missouri produced a fact sheet outlining the environmental and economic benefits our state parks provide to Missouri and calls on Missourians from across the state to urge their legislators to ensure the state parks are preserved for future generations.
From the laughing waters of the Ha Ha Tonka to the hundreds of miles of scenic views along the Katy Trail, Missouri’s system of 83 state parks are a point of pride for our state. Each year, the parks receive 18 million visitors, who come from around the nation to experience the stunning beauty and compelling history that our parks preserve.
Unfortunately, our parks are at a “tipping point”–they have a backlog of critical repairs and infrastructure improvements totalling $400 million dollars. These repairs range from repairing bridges and culverts along the Katy Trail and restoring park buildings constructed during the Great Depression to “invisible” problems like overloaded sewers and aging electrical systems. Worse, when extreme weather strikes and our parks sustain damage, the funds aren’t there to make speedy repairs: Lewis and Clark State Park was closed for two years after heavy flooding damaged the park’s buildings and roads.
The Missouri legislature has a chance to fix these problems, however. The Third Missouri Building Fund, a bond issue currently being considered in the House, would provide upwards of $40 million to infrastructure and repairs in our state parks. Once the house and senate approve the bond issue, voters get to make the final decision at the ballot in the fall. The legislature should take a bold step towards investing in our state parks, since they generate over $1 billion in economic activity within Missouri and support over 14,000 jobs, many of which are in the middle of the state.