Missouri State Parks 100 Year Anniversary

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I was quite amazed when perusing the spring edition of Missouri Resources to learn Arrow Rock Tavern was the first property purchased by the state; a rest stop built in 1834 for settlers headed west.  In 1916, Missouri was one of the first states to create a special park fund used to buy land. By 1928 the state had acquired 40,000 acres creating 14 state parks, mostly in the Ozarks. Only four states had obtained more land at this point in time. Funds initially came from game and fishing fees, and federal funds.  As automobiles and better highways improved mobility, park attendance grew. In 1974 the Department of Natural Resources was formed with Missouri State Parks under its umbrella. In 1981 federal aid ended. Fortunately citizen action led to voter approval of a one-tenth-cent sales tax to be split between state parks and soil and water conservation. To date, every ten years a large majority approves the tax renewal, now poised for a vote again this fall.

Per Missouri Resources, “state parks offer prairies, battlefields, covered bridges, ancient Indian villages, forested hills and valleys with caves and springs, streams with trout, lakes with bass and the homes and workplaces of honored artists, pioneers, soldiers and statesmen.” Given our state was quick to preserve land for the public good, we were major recipients of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. Thousands of young men worked for the Civilian Conservation Corps building infrastructure in our park systems; as major recipients, four thousand in Missouri alone. Wonderful stone and timber pavilions, along with rock walls and steps along pathways, added beauty and functionality to our parks. With over 18 million visitors each year, we have much to offer – 53 state parks, 35 historic sites, and over 1000 conservation areas. Contrary to most states, entry to our parks is free.

In 2013, American Trails, a national, nonprofit organization, named Missouri the “Best Trails State”. We have almost 1,000 miles of managed trails and more than 500 miles of National Recreation Trails; diverse trails we can walk, hike or bicycle throughout our state park system; and the Katy Trail, the longest developed rail-to-trail  in the nation. We also have the beautiful Ozark National Scenic Waterway flowing through the lower part of our state. If you want to learn more about nature offerings in Missouri, call for free subscriptions to Missouri Resources through the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and Missouri Conservationist through Missouri Department of Conservation. Missouri is a beautiful state – get out there and enjoy it!

 

Why I Care

 

14 - Joan '78

Me pondering when 24 year old, perhaps thinking about nature? This was certainly a beautiful spot along a river in Tennessee.

As a child, I wandered aimlessly thru the woods for hours, then cooled my tired feet in the rippling stream as I watched the meanderings of minnows and tadpoles. Once replenished, I wandered on, open to all adventures.  Although never verbalized, I always cared.  As an adult, I have now found my voice.

Now as I revel in the sights, sounds and smells as I hike through Harley Park and along the Katy Trail, I gladly pick up litter obscuring the beauty.

As I visit pristine National and State Parks and drive upon clean cities, I see the possibilities.

As I hear the birds chirping and delighting in the morning, and flock to our bird feeders after snowfall, I want to keep the skies free of pollution.

As I admire majestic California Redwoods and the Big Burr Oak near McBaine, I gladly recycle and use less paper products.

As I breathe in the scents of the flowers & herbs and the fresh air after a rain, I feel an awakening.

As I feel the warmth of the sun and the strength of the wind, I see the potential of harnessing renewable energy sources that don’t pollute the earth.

As I drive thru billboard-free Vermont and Maine, I delight in the views around the next bend.

As I am mesmerized by the ocean waves flowing in and out, watch a waterfall trickling, flowing or thundering over the ledge, and canoe along clear waters, I strive to minimize the chemicals, plastics and cigarette butts flowing into them.

As I hike thru the forest along a clear mountain stream, soak in a hot spring along the way, and summit a mountain, I feel alive!

As I shop at the Farmers Market and see and taste the bounty nature has provided, I want to protect our seeds, soil, and water.

As I meander through the woods and snatch a discarded chip bag, I know I have made a difference.

As I stroll across the Missouri River Bridge, and watch a beautiful sunset melt into the river and fill the sky with color, I am replenished and energized.

As I see a child mesmerized by nature – closely examining a cloud, flower, animal, or build sand castles by the ocean, I know I will always do my part to conserve and preserve those marvels for future generations to come.