By Emery Styron, publisher
River Hills Traveler
Let’s talk about the issues that matter to Missouri outdoor users. River Hills Traveler has never been bashful about taking editorial positions in our printed editions. Traveler Blog is a new way to extend the discussion and invite more people to be a part of it.
Here are some of the topics we’re commenting on. Whether you agree, disagree or would like to talk about something else, we’d like you to be a part of the discussion.
IS IT REALLY PROGRESS AT HUGHES MOUNTAIN?
At Hughes Mountain Natural Area near Irondale, the Missouri Department of Conservation bulldozed the old parking lot and built a new one at a new location. But the sign and all published directions still lead to the old lot. Very bad timing to doze the old before there’s directions to the new. And the old location was much better anyway.
MARBLE CREEK A JEWEL, BUT CAN YOU GET THERE?
Marble Creek Campground in the Mark Twain National Forest is on the Forest Service chopping block. Our writers have called this place a “jewel.” Should public access to Marble Creek be saved?
CAN GUN-LOVERS TOLERATE OPPOSING VIEWS?
In the April 2007 Traveler, Editor Bob Todd weighed in on the firing of journalist Jim Zumbo, who lost his job on the Outdoor Channel for saying in an on-line column that military-type rifles look like terrorist weapons and don’t belong in hunting. It seems that Zumbo’s main sponsor, Remington, came unglued, and the National Rifle Association along with it.
Bob opined that Zumbo’s view reflects the perceptions of much of the public, and that Remington and the NRA, should be grateful for the heads-up instead of being outraged.
This plea for empathy and understanding between pro-gun and anti-gun folks angered some of our readers who are NRA members. We had a few subscription cancellations and hot letters to the editor, some of which are published in the May issue along with other’s supporting our view.
You can read the letters in the print Traveler, but you don’t have to wait a month to get your response in print. You can express your opinion right here on Traveler Blog.
LOCAL CONTROL BEST DEFENSE AGAINST CAFOs
Traveler’s commentary in the May issue focuses on CAFOs (Confined Animal Feeding Operations). We think a blow for the environment was struck in late April when two bills on CAFOs in the Missouri Senate came to a screeching halt.
One was Senate bill 364 which would bar local counties and governments from control over CAFOs. The bill not only said control would be at the state level, but provided hog factories with protection against nuisance lawsuits. It even contained provisions for state tax credits for these giant feeding corporations.
The bills seemed headed for passage until the Missouri Rural Crisis Center and Missouri Coalition for the Environment rallied some opposition groups and individuals to let the senators know what citizens think.
Basically, opponents think the plan was to take licensing of these operations to Jefferson City where the process would be out of sight of local folks. The corporate farm interests would rather leave it at the state legislature level where their lobbying and political contributions are less visible and more efficient. If they have to buy off county supervisors, that’s going to be more work and harder to hide.
Passage would greatly weaken the voice of those who would have to live with these operations as their neighbors. The law would have said you could not even complain if the operation damaged your property (nuisance law suit) and on top of that, the state would be encouraging these operations with tax credits!
Well, 364 died.
In its place, the Senate came up with Bill 570, which dropped the ban on lawsuits and the tax credits, but still would not let local communities adopt health ordinances or anything else to regulate CAFOs more strictly than the state – which means local control wouldn’t exist as a practical matter.
The good news is the opposition to 570 was also very strong, and instead of seeking passage, the Senate turned the bill into one calling for a
study after this session is past.
The organizations that fought the bills says the battle may not be over, however. Wording could still emerge in other bills, and there’s still the House. And the interim committee’s recommendations next year.
The idea of sidestepping local control is billed as something to save the family farm, but the operators of CAFOs are agricultural giants.
WHAT’S ON YOUR MIND?
Join the discussion.
Emery Styron, publisher
River Hills Traveler