by Eric Seaman and Eric Reuter

The Missouri State Park system is soliciting public comment about three recently acquired state park properties that have not yet been opened to the public: Ozark Mountain State Park in Taney County, Bryant Creek State Park in Douglas County, and Jay Nixon State Park in Reynolds County. Some members of the Missouri Legislature have espoused a desire to sell these properties, which were initially acquired under Governor Jay Nixon. As first reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in August, Governor Eric Greitens has placed a hold on further park development, preferring to shift focus to an existing maintenance backlog. The properties are undeveloped and essentially closed to the public while their status is being resolved.

The public comment period was initially set as only December 4–15, but after concerns were aired about the short period and notice, this was extended to a full month (December 4 to January 5). There will also be three public meetings (one for each park), as listed below and on the Missouri State Parks website, where you can also submit online feedback during the comment period.

Public Meeting Schedule

Ozark Mountain State Park
Monday, Dec. 4, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Dewey Short Visitor Center
4500 State Highway 165, Branson, MO  65616

Bryant Creek State Park
Tuesday, Dec. 5, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Ava Community Center
108 Northeast 2nd Ave., Ava, MO 65608

Jay Nixon State Park
Thursday, Dec. 7, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park
148 Taum Sauk Trail, Middlebrook, MO 63656

The independent Missouri Parks Association and Missouri Sierra Club believe the three parks to be quality habitats that are consistent with long-established park acquisition plans. The parks could be protected and slowly developed by the award-winning Missouri State Parks division into beneficial public lands. More information about these parks was published in the December 2016 newsletter of the MPA.

Beyond the “do we keep it?” issue, Missouri State Parks need to know what amenities Missourians would like to see if these lands are kept and developed (for instance, birder friendly interpretive panels, primitive hiking trails, basic parking, and types of habitat. This is YOUR public land, and you have the opportunity to let your voice be heard. – by Eric Seaman and Eric Reuter