|Former Missouri Tourism Director John Robinson has joined the effort to preserve Missouri state parks from the threat of pollution, the Citizens to Protect State Parks and Historic Sites announced yesterday. Most recently, the threat to several Missouri parks has come from concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, which have been established or proposed near park boundaries.
CAFOs typically confine thousands of animals in close quarters under one roof. The waste byproducts of these CAFOs cause foul odors, and cause water and ground pollution when the containment systems fail.
"Missouri has one of the top five parks systems in the nation," Robinson said. "While I was always aware of the CAFO controversy in America, my recent study of the CAFO issue has convinced me that many of Missouri's tourism treasures are in peril.
"This state is big enough -- 68,674 square miles -- that factory farms with thousands of confined animals don't need to set up next to state parks, and above trout streams," Robinson said. "Working in tourism, I am acutely aware that perception becomes reality. The flood of '93 discouraged potential visitors who thought Missouri was under water. I've dealt with negative stories about SARS, bird flu, West Nile Virus and tornadoes. But those were temporary scares, and Missouri tourism worked through the threats. Farm factories are different. Once a CAFO moves next to a state park, the threat is not temporary. And the potential is very real for damage to air, land and water. Even more immediate is the damage to the reputation of Missouri parks and historic sites. Word travels fast that a vacation area stinks.”
"Missouri tourism can survive temporary maladies. I'm not sure Missouri tourism will survive a perceived change from the Show Me State to the Smell Me State."