The State House has some messages concerning conservation issues to consider when it takes up debate of the budget next week.
The proposed spending plan for fiscal year 2015 that came out of the House Budget Committee includes $6-million to back a state takeover of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways. Some lawmakers want to reject federal control now that new regulations include restriction of motorboats and horses in the riverways, and proposal has been offered in Congress to transfer control of the site to the state.
Representative Jill Schupp (D-Creve Coeur) called that an attack, and wanted that money removed.
“The people in my community,” said Schupp, “I’m in St. Louis County, as you know … we don’t live in this area but we certainly utilize and go view this marvelous example of beautiful natural resource.”
Schupp cites reports that say reductions in the use of motorboats, ATVs and motor homes are needed to help preserve the park. Representative Robert Ross (R-Yukon) says those proposed reductions are already hurting the region’s economy.
“Frankly, I mean, you’re from St. Louis,” Ross tells Schupp. “That’s not in your backyard, and it is mine.”
Schupp’s amendment was defeated and the money remains in the budget proposal that goes to the full House next week.
Ross also succeeded in adding money to the budget that he wants the Conservation Department to use to encourage the eradication of the river otter.
Otters were reintroduced by the Department in the 1980s and Ross says that effort was too successful.
“In my area and across the state, where these have now become prolific, they have absolutely destroyed fishing,” Ross said.
His proposal, which was added to the budget, would give the Department of Conservation more than $400,000 so that it could pay $50 for each otter delivered to it.
$500,000 is also included in the proposed budget for the Fischer Delta Research Center in Southeast Missouri so it can fund a public-private effort to eradicate Asian carp, fish that weigh up to 50 pounds and are known for jumping out of lakes and rivers at the sound of boat motors.
Those three line items can be found in HB 2006.