Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

In Rare Remarks, Nixon Says Public Should Voice Support for Proposed Trail Project

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

In Rare Remarks, Nixon Says Public Should Voice Support for Proposed Trail Project

Article excerpt

Former Gov. Jay Nixon has kept a low profile since leaving office in January, but he made an exception Thursday to advocate for state parks.

In an interview, Nixon urged Missourians to speak out in support of a proposed trail project that could span the state.

He also defended his administration's expansion of the state park system, during which thousands of acres of parkland were added to the state's rolls. He said voters' decision to reauthorize a parks, soils and waters sales tax in November is proof of public support for public lands.

"On the same day that Donald Trump got 57 percent in Missouri, parks and waters sales tax was re-upped with 80 percent," Nixon told the Post-Dispatch.

"80 percent of Missourians especially that day voting for taxes, I thought reflected the deep, deep feeling Missourians always had about wild spaces and about parks."

Nixon spoke after the Post-Dispatch reported last week that current Gov. Eric Greitens' administration has paused development on four planned parks, shifting instead to maintenance.

Missouri State Parks is debating now whether to accept a donation from Ameren of a former rail line from Windsor to Beaufort, about 144 miles. The proposed Rock Island Trail would intersect with the Katy Trail in Windsor, in western Missouri. A public comment period for the project is now open.

"I want the public to reflect as there is an open comment period you know, their support and to look at things like Rock Island in the long-term context," Nixon said.

Nixon caught criticism as Missouri State Parks increased its acreage. Critics said the expansion was conducted secretly, taking land off the property tax rolls and diverting money away from needed maintenance at other state parks. They also said money from settlements with lead mining companies shouldn't have been used for some of the projects. …

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