Missouri State Parks has been a leader nationally in both natural and cultural resource preservation and stewardship. The results are there for all visitors to the parks and historic sites to see: hundreds of original Civilian Conservation Corps cabins, lodges and picnic shelters from the Great Depression era in the 1930s carefully restored and still in use in nearly all the parks that were already in the system at that time; beautiful oak woodlands, savannas, and glades maintained with periodic prescribed fire and abloom with wildflowers in the spring; scores of historic buildings from the 19th century meticulously researched and restored in historic sites statewide; caves with stalactites delicately pieced back together and still harboring endangered species of bats; and more miles of clear, clean streams with bottomland forests and towering bluffs than perhaps any other state park system in the nation.
But leaders of MPA and other conservation organizations devoted to our state park system have begun to raise concern about evidence in some parks that the remarkable gains from decades of state park leadership in resource stewardship are in danger of being lost as budgets are cut and available staff are diverted to other administrative priorities. MPA organized a panel of leaders from the past four decades of active natural resource stewardship in the state park system to consider the history and current challenges at its annual gathering in 2017. The association approved a strong resolution urging reinvigoration of active stewardship at all levels of the system—administrative, field, and public—and indicated its intent to focus on the cultural realm in the near future and to monitor progress in the years to come.
Read about the history and challenges of active natural resource stewardship in Missouri state parks in the December 2017 Heritage.
View MPA’s October 2017 resolution on state park stewardship.