Support historic parks; say no to CAFOs
July 13, 2007
The Missouri State Park Advisory Board is scheduled to meet next week on July 19-20, 2007. Although it doesn't have a discussion about the pending Concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) development near state park borders on its agenda, a growing number of citizens think it should.

The Board is charged with advising the Missouri Department of Natural Resources about the acquisition, development and operation of the Missouri state park system. It has no authority over CAFOs, but, as Kathleen Logan Smith, executive director of the Missouri Coalition for the Environment, points out, they do have the power to conduct public hearings.

According to Smith, the DNR in January told the Missouri State Park Advisory Board that its water program regulates CAFOs under clean water law.

"It failed to note, she said, that it [the DNR] considers CAFOs to be 'no discharge' facilities, despite evidence of impacts to streams and to groundwater." She further pointed out, what has become obvious to everyone but the DNR, that the manure applied to fields from the CAFO operations is one of the major sources of water pollution. Yet, the DNR continues to rubberstamp every CAFO permit application they receive.

Approval of permits to construct and operate CAFOs near three Missouri state parks--Roaring River State Park, Arrow Rock State Historic Site and the Battle of Athens State Historic Site--are in the hands of the DNR. Local citizens living near these parks are concerned about the impact such operations would have on the quality of water and air and consequently the health of the region.

As Smith reminds everyone:

The economic impacts of CAFOs are also often overlooked. Rural communities have been hard hit by multinational CAFO corporations that have destroyed family farms and have forced many remaining farmers into contracts doing business their way, on their terms.

Then there's the air. CAFOs stink, and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources' claim that it is very serious about dealing with odor only underscores the fact that they have not been successful in un-stinking them. Beyond odor though, the facilities emit air pollutants that can make people sick. Hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, particulates, and bacteria (often antibiotic-resistant bacteria) are among the air pollutants of concern. Some studies have shown increases in hospitalization rates for respiratory illness in counties that have CAFOs, compared to counties that do not.....

A letter writing campaign by concerned citizens has been initiated to let the parks advisory board know what they think of their lack of action regarding the CAFO expansion near park borders. To join this campaign send an e-mail to Director Douglas K. Eiken here and ask that it be read at their next meeting. A hard copy letter may also be mailed here: Dr. Douglas K. Eiken, Division Director, Department of Natural Resources, Division of State Parks, P.O. Box 176, Jefferson City, MO 65101.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation supports Arrow Rock citizens

In a letter dated July 12, 2007, and signed by Jennifer Sandy, field representative for the Midwest office of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, to Doyle Childers, executive director of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources he and his office are urged to delay making a decision on the Gessling CAFO construction permit application that impacts the Arrow Rock State Historic Site. The letter expresses the National Trust's strong support for the recommendations made by the attorneys for Friends of Arrow Rock.

In a letter to the DNR dated June 29, 2007, the Friends' attorneys requested such a delay in order to allow the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Resources Conservation Service to complete the Section 106 process required by the National Historic Preservation Act or to deny the application without prejudice and reconsider it after the Section 106 process is complete.

Sandy calls attention to Arrow Rock as a National Historic Landmark district designated for its significance in the history of westward expansion.

"The construction of the proposed CAFO may adversely affect the town of Arrow Rock, nearby State Historic Sites, and National Register-listed and eligible properties," she writes.

She also reminds Childers of the significance of the National Trust, chartered by Congress in 1949 as a private nonprofit organization in part to "further the purposes of federal historic preservation laws,"in other words not to create a situation in which historic preservation is harmed.

Calling participation of a CAFO operation in the Section 106 review precedent setting, she writes that it is "imperative that this review set an example for other similar projects in the state and across the nation."

"Approving the state construction permit and allowing Gessling CAFO to begin construction could foreclose NRCS's ability to examine a broad range of alternatives that avoid or minimize potential harm to the Arrow Rock NHL and other significant historic resources, as required by Section 106 of the NHPA," Sandy concludes.

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