Missouri’s state parks system is celebrating 100 years of service to our state.
Throughout their history they have sought to protect Missouri’s natural resources while providing recreational opportunities to our state’s citizens. As the park system has grown, public support and interest has grown as well.
Several important dates in the history of the park system are as follows:
• 1917 – State Parks Fund officially created; revenues come from the old Missouri Fish and Game Dept.
• 1937 – Creation of the MO State Park Board.
• 1945 – Drafters of the new MO Constitution establish a mill tax to help fund state parks (approved by voters when they approved the new state constitution).
• 1974 – Park system re-organizes under the newly formed MO Dept. of Natural Resources (DNR).
• 1984 – Park system grows and needs a permanent source of funding; voters approve a state sales tax of 1/10 of 1 cent, with 1/2 going to Missouri State Parks and the other half going to MO Soil and Water Conservation Program.
Since voter approval of the 1/10 of a cent sales tax, adequate funding has been provided for both the state parks and the soil and water program. Renewed in 1988, 1996, and 2006, the sales tax will be up for renewal again this November.
Since 1996, the tax is on a ten year sunset. It generates approximately $78 million annually and cannot be re-appropriated for any other purposes. Our state parks receive roughly 75% of their funding from the parks portion of this tax and about 25% comes from grants, user fees, and federal funds.