A key Missouri lawmaker is confused about terms the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) uses to describe a backlog of maintenance involving Missouri state parks.
State Rep. Craig Redmon (R-Canton) wants DNR to focus on maintaining its current park system, before purchasing additional land for park space. Redmon, who chairs the Missouri House Appropriations Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources, wants to know the status of what he calls “deferred maintenance” at Missouri state parks. During a hearing this week at the Statehouse in Jefferson City, state parks director Bill Bryan testified that deferred maintenance is a misused term.
“Deferred maintenance means a capital need that has not been attended to and with the result being that the facility or services are not available to the public. And frankly, we have very little, almost zero, of deferred maintenance in the state park system,” Bryan says.
But Bryan testified that there is a $212 million backlog of “unscheduled maintenance”, which is not in DNR’s capital improvement budget. He says it’s unscheduled maintenance because it has not reached a priority level yet to address the needs.
“Our most pressing items are probably roads, bridges and then wastewater and drinking water infrastructure, and that project is underway right now so we can plan for that long-term how to do it,” Bryan says.
DNR also told lawmakers they plan to buy about 1,100 acres of land in southwest Missouri’s Taney County for more park space.
Missouri’s park system includes 88 state parks and historic sites. It includes more than 2,000 structures, 2,500 campsites and about 2,000 picnic sites. DNR says about 18 million people visit the state park system annually.