Don’t poach Missouri’s citizen conservation commission

03/09/2014 5:26 PM

03/09/2014 5:26 PM

The Missouri General Assembly is quietly working to unravel Missouri’s unique and long-successful system of a citizen-led state conservation department. Senate Joint Resolution 42, introduced by Sen. Eric Schmitt, a Kirkwood Republican, and House Joint Resolution 57, introduced by Rep. Jay Barnes, a Jefferson City Republican, would give Missouri’s politicians the power to set and control hunting and fishing seasons and limits.

Common sense and history show that such a move is a bad idea. Case in point: Decades ago, management of Missouri’s fish, forest and game was taken

away

from the state legislature, as a result of rampant political favoritism that led to a period of neglect and degradation of our state’s natural resources.

Since then, our citizen-led Conservation Commission has made Missouri a national leader in the management and protection of natural resources. Missouri’s current system is considered among the best in the nation, and a model for others to follow. Yet Rep. Barnes and others want to give control of our public resources back to legislators, special interest groups and lobbyists.

This isn’t the first time politicians have tried this. In 1978 and again in 1982, the General Assembly placed language on the ballot to create a permanent Joint Committee on Administrative Rules. Realizing that those measures would create an imbalance in constitutional powers among the three branches of government, Missouri voters wisely and firmly turned the measures down.

Missouri’s citizen-led system of conservation has worked well and accountably for more than 75 years. To change things now would be a step backward — to the days when partisan politics led to exploitation and mismanagement of Missouri’s precious forest, fish and wildlife resources.

The numbers speak for themselves. Hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation have a huge economic effect on our state’s economy; they give our families great pleasure and opportunities to learn together and support thousands of jobs that generate millions of dollars in revenue.

Our current conservation governing system must stay the same. We strongly encourage members of the Missouri General Assembly to exempt the Conservation Commission from this attempted legislation, and keep our state at the forefront of conservation for the enjoyment, education and appreciation of future generations.

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