Should closed state parks be opened? Economic impacts say yes

Four newly-purchased state parks remain closed after heavy debates sprang up immediately after their purchase by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources last year.

Eleven Point State Park is one of four newly-purchased Missouri state parks which remains closed until further decisions are made about their fate. Eleven Point State Park includes six miles of Eleven Point River frontage.

Former Governor Jay Nixon announced the purchase of the four state parks — Bryant Creek, Ozark Mountain, Eleven Point and Jay Nixon State Park — on December 16, 2016, a mere three weeks before his term ended.

Nixon had been at odds with members of the Republican-led state legislature last year over his attempts to open more land to public use. The battles roared on in 2017.

Opponents of the four parks site loss of property tax revenues as their major complaint against creating more state parks.

Senator David Slater, R-Cassville, went so far to say, “I think there is a little bit of a land grab going on. That concerns me.”

Senator Mike Cunningham, R-Rogersville, filed legislation last year requiring the state to begin paying property taxes on land belonging to DNR as a way to offset the loss of revenue incurred by local governments. The idea was debated, but did not move forward.

Proponents of opening the four state parks contend that DNR does pay in lieu of taxes for the first five years of ownership. Too, they say that park visitors spend lots of money in and around parks.

The four parks in contention include, Ozark Mountain State Park in Taney County, Bryant Creek State Park, in Douglas County, and Eleven Point State Park in Oregon County and Jay Nixon State Park in Reynolds County.

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