Debate Towers Over Mark Twain National Forest
The University of Missouri paid for the tower with a $1.4 million federal grant, so scientists worldwide can use its atmospheric data.
The tower is on Shelton Lane, near the national forest, in a natural ecosystem.
But, if private owners buy parts of the forest, the area won't be so natural anymore.
"If those plots were sold, and there was clearing and installation of a lot of CO2-generating sources, you know, burning furnaces, propane furnaces, that would be the worst possible, the worst potential situation," explained Steve Pallardy, MU forestry professor. "It could affect our readings."
Among other things, those readings measure carbon dioxide in the air. That's important for studying climate change in different environments.
"That tower picks up atmospheric data from a mile or more away," added Pallardy. "However, two of the three tracts of land that are up for sale in the Mark Twain National Forest are only one-third to one-half of a mile away from here. That means any changes private owners make to those lands can significantly alter the data."
The federal forestry department said it checked potential sale sites only for endangered species and architectural or cultural resources before listing them. And, the tower does not fall into those categories.
After a 30-day public input period ends this month, the department will re-evaluate if some of the land should remain on the potential sale list.