Missouri voters have once again demonstrated overwhelming support for Missouri’s parks and soils program by approving Constitutional Amendment #1. Missouri’s one-tenth cent sales tax, earmarked half for state parks and half for soil and water conservation, is placed on the ballot every ten years for renewal.
A broad coalition of agricultural, environmental and conservation organizations – who at times don’t always agree on other issues – worked together successfully in support of Amendment #1. Blake Hurst, president of Missouri Farm Bureau, and Steve Mahfood, advisor to The Nature Conservancy, served as co-chairs of the Citizens Committee for Soil, Water and State Parks which developed the “Let’s Keep a Good Thing Going” parks and soils campaign.
“We are pleased Missouri voters continue to show strong support for our state’s soil and water conservation efforts and for our state park system,” said Blake Hurst, president of Missouri Farm Bureau. “In the last 30 years Missouri farmers have implemented soil conservation practices on their land that have cut soil erosion in half, and Missourians have free access to one of the finest state parks systems in the country.”
Revenues generated by Amendment #1 will be used to implement additional conservation practices, which farmers must help pay for through a cost share formula. Some of the funds will also be used for maintenance of terraces and other conservation structures, many of which are decades old.
Missouri’s park system consists of 88 state parks and historic sites. Annually they attract 19 million visitors. Around 75% of the budget to run Missouri’s state parks comes from the Amendment #1 revenues. Admittance to state parks is free to the public.
Missouri has the only program in the country where an earmarked tax is used both as a cost share for soil and water conservation practices on farmland and as a means of supporting the state’s park system. It is estimated that both programs together add $1.8 billion to Missouri’s economy.
“As co-chair of the Citizens Committee, I’m proud to have worked with this fine group representing a cross-section of Missouri organizations and look forward to the continuing success of the parks and soils program,” said Hurst.