Future uncertain for four now-closed state parks created by lawsuit

3 months 1 week 4 days ago Wednesday, November 08 2017 Nov 8, 2017 Wednesday, November 08, 2017 9:20:00 PM CST November 08, 2017 in News
By: Lauren Magarino, KOMU 8 Reporter
loading

BRANSON - There is a business principle that says spending money makes money. 

Missouri made a purchase on that principle ten years ago when it bought land to build four state parks. 

The money spent on more than 9,300 acres came from a $56 million lawsuit. The state, led by then Attorney General Jay Nixon, sued the American Smelting and Refining Company, also known as ASARCO. 

A federal judge in Texas ruled in favor of the state. Half of the money had to be used to clean up environmental damages caused by the lead company. The other half had to be spent on building new state parks.  

Four were developed: Jay Nixon State Park, Ozark Mountain State Park, Bryant Creek State Park and Eleven Point State Park. They were all either quickly closed or never even opened.

John Robinson, a former state tourism director, said the parks across the state make a total of a billion dollars a year. 

"Tourism is the marketing arm and we can prove that. For every dollar we put on the air, three dollars comes back to the state coffers in tax revenues," Robinson said.

This brings back that business principle. State representative Lyle Rowland said the state does not have money to spend on the development of the four parks.  

"I don't see just spending a whole lot of money developing them, until we take care of what we already have," Rowland said. 

The Missouri park system has around 91 state parks. 

Governor Eric Greitens closed the state parks one by one between February and August.

The future of the idle parks has now become political. 

"I know there are a few who want to sell the parks to prove a point," Rowland said. 

He speaking of other state representatives, which he does not entirely agree with.  

"I'm not in favor selling them, but I'm not in favor of developing them either," Rowland said. 

Park lovers raised criticism the moment selling the parks was put on the table.

"It's just short sided to say that, to fill a one time budget problem, we're going to sell parcels of beautiful, pristine Ozark land," Robinson said. 

Terry Ganey, a volunteer and lobbyist for the Sierra Club said, "It doesn't seem they have that much of a belief in the value of nature."

Bill Bryan, who was the parks director until Greitens fired him a year ago, said, "It's really a shame that, instead of celebrating the centennial of our state park system, we're talking about getting rid of our newest parks."

Bryan also said if keeping the parks came down to a lawsuit, he would get involved.

"I am a lawyer," he said. 

Ken Midkiff, a member of the Missouri Park's Association and Sierra Club, said the group already wrote a lawsuit, but has not filed it.  

"There's no authority in state law to sell park land," he said. 

Greitens hired Ben Ellis as the new parks director. Ellis started working four months ago.

"We're not going to be driven by lawsuits. We're going to be driven by making solid, educational, knowledge-based decisions," he said. 

One decision Ellis made was to have boots on the ground. Surveyors are identifying boundaries and noting their safety. 

He said the state will host public meetings at all four state parks in December. 

When it boils down to selling or developing, he said, the state of Missouri is looking at all options. 

"It would be false to say we're leaning towards any one of those options," he said.  

Until then, those interested in the future of the four state parks will have to wait.  

Ellis said he hopes to have news by the first of 2018. 

The governor's office declined comment. 

More News

Grid
List
LEAWOOD, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say two children have died and three other people are critically injured in... More >>
52 minutes ago Monday, February 19 2018 Feb 19, 2018 Monday, February 19, 2018 7:28:00 AM CST February 19, 2018 in News
BOONE COUNTY - February is national wedding month. According to the National Association of Bridal Consultants , most couples begin... More >>
1 hour ago Monday, February 19 2018 Feb 19, 2018 Monday, February 19, 2018 7:14:00 AM CST February 19, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - A $2.7 million project to the Columbia sewage system will be introduced to city council Monday night. ... More >>
1 hour ago Monday, February 19 2018 Feb 19, 2018 Monday, February 19, 2018 7:08:00 AM CST February 19, 2018 in News
ODESSA (AP) — An 80-year-old Missouri man who was convicted of abusing two young girls faces a possible... More >>
1 hour ago Monday, February 19 2018 Feb 19, 2018 Monday, February 19, 2018 6:47:00 AM CST February 19, 2018 in News
BOONE COUNTY - A 10-acre fire threatened several homes just outside of Columbia Sunday. The fire was near the... More >>
11 hours ago Sunday, February 18 2018 Feb 18, 2018 Sunday, February 18, 2018 9:04:00 PM CST February 18, 2018 in News
ROCHEPORT - With all 163 seats in the Missouri House of Representatives up for election this November, campaigns are getting... More >>
12 hours ago Sunday, February 18 2018 Feb 18, 2018 Sunday, February 18, 2018 7:57:00 PM CST February 18, 2018 in News
LICKING - The Texas County Sheriff's Office canceled an Endangered Silver Advisory for an 85-year-old woman reported missing... More >>
12 hours ago Sunday, February 18 2018 Feb 18, 2018 Sunday, February 18, 2018 7:30:00 PM CST February 18, 2018 in News
MONITEAU COUNTY - A California man was taken into custody after deputies reported finding a "substantial amount" of meth inside... More >>
13 hours ago Sunday, February 18 2018 Feb 18, 2018 Sunday, February 18, 2018 7:20:00 PM CST February 18, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - The City of Columbia plans to pull together a group of professionals from diverse backgrounds to work on... More >>
14 hours ago Sunday, February 18 2018 Feb 18, 2018 Sunday, February 18, 2018 5:58:00 PM CST February 18, 2018 in News
CENTERTOWN - A warm, but blustery Sunday morning carried the smell of gunpowder over Rock Creek Road in Centertown, a... More >>
18 hours ago Sunday, February 18 2018 Feb 18, 2018 Sunday, February 18, 2018 2:07:00 PM CST February 18, 2018 in Top Stories
COLUMBIA - The Columbia Police Department will soon be supplementing classroom training with online courses, according to Public Information Officer... More >>
22 hours ago Sunday, February 18 2018 Feb 18, 2018 Sunday, February 18, 2018 10:14:00 AM CST February 18, 2018 in News
BOONE COUNTY - A fire destroyed a home on East Mount Hope Road early Sunday morning. Boone County Fire... More >>
22 hours ago Sunday, February 18 2018 Feb 18, 2018 Sunday, February 18, 2018 9:53:00 AM CST February 18, 2018 in News
Eric Hosmer is leaving the Royals. Hosmer signed an eight-year contract with the San Diego Padres for for around... More >>
1 day ago Sunday, February 18 2018 Feb 18, 2018 Sunday, February 18, 2018 12:04:00 AM CST February 18, 2018 in Sports
COLUMBIA - More than 100 students gathered to compete in the 2018 Columbia Elementary & Middle School Scholastic Chess Tournament... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, February 17 2018 Feb 17, 2018 Saturday, February 17, 2018 5:22:00 PM CST February 17, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - The Father Tolton Catholic High School Blazers and the Battle High School Spartan Sparklers came to share their... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, February 17 2018 Feb 17, 2018 Saturday, February 17, 2018 4:49:00 PM CST February 17, 2018 in News
ASHLAND – The Ashland Police Department is taking precautionary measures after a school shooting at a Florida high school. The... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, February 17 2018 Feb 17, 2018 Saturday, February 17, 2018 4:36:00 PM CST February 17, 2018 in News
OSAGE BEACH – Elementary students displayed their creativity on Saturday. Hy-Vee hosted a Junior Chefs Energy Bite competition. ... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, February 17 2018 Feb 17, 2018 Saturday, February 17, 2018 3:40:00 PM CST February 17, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Columbia police were unsure Saturday who drove a vehicle they believe hit and killed a man on I-70.... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, February 17 2018 Feb 17, 2018 Saturday, February 17, 2018 2:34:00 PM CST February 17, 2018 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 59°
9am 62°
10am 63°
11am 65°
12pm 66°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

7:00a
Today
9:00a
Megyn Kelly TODAY
10:00a
Today with Kathie Lee & Hoda
8:00a
The Steve Wilkos Show
9:00a
The Steve Wilkos Show
10:00a
Jerry Springer

Tonight's Schedule

7:00p
2018 Olympic Winter Games
7:00p
DC's Legends of Tomorrow
8:00p
Whose Line Is It Anyway?
8:30p
Whose Line Is It Anyway?
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Seinfeld