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

3 months 1 week 5 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
COLUMBIA - Deputies arrested a man Friday morning after he allegedly led them on a pursuit that ended in a... More >>
3 days ago Friday, February 16 2018 Feb 16, 2018 Friday, February 16, 2018 1:55:00 PM CST February 16, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Following the deadly shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, the superintendent of Jefferson City Public... More >>
3 days ago Friday, February 16 2018 Feb 16, 2018 Friday, February 16, 2018 1:46:50 PM CST February 16, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - New Haven Elementary could be home to a brand new playground. The school is competing in a... More >>
3 days ago Friday, February 16 2018 Feb 16, 2018 Friday, February 16, 2018 1:44:00 PM CST February 16, 2018 in News
FULTON - An investigation into allegations against a former staff member at the Division of Youth Services Fulton Treatment Center... More >>
3 days ago Friday, February 16 2018 Feb 16, 2018 Friday, February 16, 2018 1:38:00 PM CST February 16, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - There's a new member of the Boone County Fire Protection District team, and he's hitting the ground running... More >>
3 days ago Friday, February 16 2018 Feb 16, 2018 Friday, February 16, 2018 1:22:00 PM CST February 16, 2018 in News
CENTRALIA - Police took a student into custody Friday morning after staff at Centralia High School found a handgun in... More >>
3 days ago Friday, February 16 2018 Feb 16, 2018 Friday, February 16, 2018 11:16:00 AM CST February 16, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Police confirmed a person died after getting hit by a semi truck on I-70 early Friday. The... More >>
3 days ago Friday, February 16 2018 Feb 16, 2018 Friday, February 16, 2018 11:08:00 AM CST February 16, 2018 in News
VALLES MINES (AP) — A man suspected of shooting at a suburban St. Louis sheriff's deputy is in... More >>
3 days ago Friday, February 16 2018 Feb 16, 2018 Friday, February 16, 2018 9:35:35 AM CST February 16, 2018 in News
FORSYTH (AP) — Authorities are fighting a fire that has burned about 500 acres in the Mark Twain National... More >>
3 days ago Friday, February 16 2018 Feb 16, 2018 Friday, February 16, 2018 9:30:28 AM CST February 16, 2018 in News
SPRINGFIELD (AP) — Troopers in Missouri say a mother made her reluctant 14-year-old daughter drive, leading to a crash... More >>
3 days ago Friday, February 16 2018 Feb 16, 2018 Friday, February 16, 2018 9:25:15 AM CST February 16, 2018 in News
MARYLAND HEIGHTS (AP) — Authorities have arrested a man suspected of fatally stabbing another man and a toddler at... More >>
3 days ago Friday, February 16 2018 Feb 16, 2018 Friday, February 16, 2018 9:15:37 AM CST February 16, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Officials with the Water and Light department proposed a new generator that would boost the city's renewable energy... More >>
3 days ago Friday, February 16 2018 Feb 16, 2018 Friday, February 16, 2018 8:19:00 AM CST February 16, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Three of the four candidates vying for two seats on the Jefferson City Board of Education spoke... More >>
4 days ago Thursday, February 15 2018 Feb 15, 2018 Thursday, February 15, 2018 8:14:00 PM CST February 15, 2018 in Continuous News
COLUMBIA - The case against suspected arsonist James Hall has been declared a mistrial since the jury could not reach... More >>
4 days ago Thursday, February 15 2018 Feb 15, 2018 Thursday, February 15, 2018 7:17:00 PM CST February 15, 2018 in News
BLUE SPRINGS (AP) — A French automotive technology supplier plans to open a $60 million production facility and bring... More >>
4 days ago Thursday, February 15 2018 Feb 15, 2018 Thursday, February 15, 2018 6:29:35 PM CST February 15, 2018 in News
DE SOTO (AP) — Four firefighters are recovering from non-life threatening injuries suffered while battling a brush fire near... More >>
4 days ago Thursday, February 15 2018 Feb 15, 2018 Thursday, February 15, 2018 6:22:11 PM CST February 15, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Conversation on gun control is a major topic in the Columbia community and in the Missouri legislature. ... More >>
4 days ago Thursday, February 15 2018 Feb 15, 2018 Thursday, February 15, 2018 5:35:00 PM CST February 15, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - In its fifth football season in the Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC), Lincoln will play a total... More >>
4 days ago Thursday, February 15 2018 Feb 15, 2018 Thursday, February 15, 2018 5:29:00 PM CST February 15, 2018 in Sports
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 66°
8am 65°
9am 65°
10am 64°
11am 63°

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
7:00a
Maury
8:00a
The Steve Wilkos Show
9:00a
The Steve Wilkos Show

Tonight's Schedule

7:00p
2018 Olympic Winter Games
7:00p
The Flash
8:00p
Black Lightning
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Seinfeld