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Your Opinion: Lawmaker urged to leave conservation alone

by Ken Babcock, Jamestown | January 4, 2015 at 4:15 p.m. | Updated January 4, 2015 at 4:15 p.m.

Dear Editor:

Missouri has one of the best conservation programs in the world because citizens have given the Conservation Commission and Department of Conservation constitutional responsibility and authority to manage the state's forest, fish and wildlife resources. In 1936, citizens voted to keep politics out of hunting and fishing regulations and natural resource management by creating the citizen-led Conservation Commission.

Again, in 1976, citizens further amended the constitution by establishing a dedicated sales tax for conservation. This funding, along with hunting and fishing license revenues, has allowed Missourians to enjoy conservation achievements which are the envy of other states. Successful wildlife restoration efforts, fish stocking programs, nature centers, healthy forests, boat accesses, public shooting ranges, and conveniently located conservation areas are examples of benefits Missouri citizens have enjoyed. In addition, conservation efforts have created thousands of Missouri jobs and generated millions of dollars in local and state taxes.

With the magnitude of other challenges facing our state, it is unthinkable that some members of the Missouri General Assembly would attempt to destroy our conservation programs, but they are.

Rep. Redmon has introduced legislation to repeal the conservation sales tax which would eliminate a majority of the funding for conservation programs. In addition, Sen. Munzlinger, has pre-filed bills that would eliminate hunting and fishing permit fees for Missouri residents and double the size of the Conservation Commission.

These bills are thinly veiled efforts to put the General Assembly in control of forest, fish and wildlife management. This did not work in the 1930s and will not work now. These actions come on the heels of efforts last year to require all hunting and fishing regulations passed by the Conservation Commission to go through the General Assembly for final approval.

The last thing I want is the General Assembly setting the opening day of waterfowl season. Fortunately, thanks to an out crying of opposition, the bill did not pass.

I encourage all legislators to listen to their constituents and stop HJR8 (Redmon), and SJR1 and SB56 (Munzlinger) that would completely destroy our Conservation Commission and gut the Department of Conservation. Leave our conservation programs alone.

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